Feeling a bit blue these days without any specific reason? We all have our emotional ups and downs, and that’s totally normal, but did you know your diet could be affecting your mental health? Processed foods, unbalanced blood sugar, and lack of important nutrients all contribute to less than optimal mental health. Our brain needs certain building blocks from our diet to run smoothly.
If you’re feeling a bit down, experiencing brain fog or anxiety, one place to look for some relief is from your diet. An anti-inflammatory, real food, nutrient dense way of eating gives your brain what it needs to function properly and helps keep your mood in balance. So here are 5 ways to lose the blues:
1. Eat good fats, especially omega-3s:
Omega-3s are the anti-inflammatory fatty acids. The latest research suggests that depression may be primarily caused by inflammation. Reduce your exposure to inflammatory foods like sugar, vegetable and industrial seed oils, and trans fats. Enjoy sources high in omega-3s like wild caught salmon, sardines, grass fed beef, eggs from pastured chickens, and walnuts.
2. Eat high quality protein:
Neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in our brains, are built out of amino acids, and so is protein. Your levels of the feel-good NTs like serotonin, which relays different signals in the brain including regulation of mood, sleep, and appetite, will diminish without adequate protein.
High quality protein includes grass-fed beef, organic chicken, organic pork, wild caught fish, and eggs from pastured chickens.
3. Balance your blood sugar:
Have you seen that Snickers commercial? "You're not yourself when you're hungry." Or know the term hangry? This is a real thing. Low blood sugar disturbs your mood. I used to think it was just my personality to get totally moody when I was hungry. NOT TRUE. It was just low blood sugar! Eat balanced meals and/or snacks every 3-4 hours.
4. Get some vitamin D:
Low levels are highly associated with depression. Get 10-15 minutes a day of sunlight on your skin without burning.
5. Support a healthy gut:
It’s not just what you eat, it’s what you can assimilate! In order to get the nutrients from the food we ingest, including the ones that support our brain like vitamin B6 that helps in the manufacture of the neurotransmitter serotonin, we must have a healthy gut. A great way to do this is to support the bacteria in our gut that helps break down food and extract nutrients.
Add in fermented foods to your diet to provide beneficial probiotics, the good gut bacteria.Karen is a certified nutrition consultant, trained chef, and real food enthusiast. She earned a B.A. in anthropology from University of Colorado-Boulder in 2000 and a professional Food and Wine certification from CookStreet in 2007. After adopting a primal-type diet in 2009 and finding great health improvements, she attended Bauman College in Boulder, CO to receive her certification as a nutrition consultant in 2011. She has been working with clients since then, helping them learn what foods to eat, how to cook them, and how to find greater health and vitality. For more information, check out her website, Go Primal by Karen.
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