When was the last time you went to the doctor or therapist and he told you to go home and lay off the McDonald's, avoid food dyes and additives, eat organic veggies, grass fed meat and dairy, and free range eggs? I never have. Not once. Maybe I have been going to the wrong doctors! Do you suppose McDonald's causes depression?
I heard it said one time that the gut is your second brain. Feed your gut what it needs to be healthy and your brain will be too. I am convinced that the majority of health problems today (physical and mental) stem from a lack of proper nutrition. We eat sure; most of us too much. We have plenty of food in our country, but a severe lack of vitamins, minerals, and healthy brain boosting fats.
I seriously used to roll my eyes when I heard people say that this or that can be all better when we eat organic, non-processed food and avoid food dyes. Like my eyes would get stuck up there kind of rolling my eyes. But the more I have researched these claims, the more I have to think they are right on the money! Well almost. As with all wellness, it is only a key to the puzzle. Lowering stress and getting exercise are vital keys as well.
Aristotle himself coined the phrase: "Let food be thy medicine." I ponder on those words often.
Naturopathic Doctor, Linda Johnson said, "Nutritional deficiencies can cause depression. When so many people eat processed fast foods cooked in microwaves, it is no surprise that depression is so common." (source) She goes on to say, "Serotonin is dependent on quality nutrients, so it is important to eat regularly and have some protein at each meal to help keep blood sugar balanced. Good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and flaxseed oil are also important to help you produce enough serotonin."
The oils in processed foods are soybean, canola, and hydrogenated fats. Unfortunately, today's "Standard American Diet" is severely lacking in healthy fats that increase serotonin. She also mentions that artificial sweeteners- another prominent feature in "diet foods" lowers serotonin levels.
Foods that help produce serotonin:
- Fruits such as cherries, plums, bananas, and pineapple.
- Turkey (a source of tryptophan) and other non-hormone treated meats and eggs.
- Dark Chocolate... Oh yea! Something always told me that would be good for me.
- Are you on a low carb diet? Pasta, potatoes and bread boost serotonin with a feeling of satiety.
- Milk and Cheese (Best if it is raw from grass fed cows or goats).
Foods that reduce serotonin:
- Sugary Snacks (some research credits sugar with temporary serotonin increase)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Low carb, high protein diets
- Low fat diets
So, if you are depressed, have a talk with your diet. No one likes hearing that, I know. Food is supposed to comfort, not cause anxiety and depression. Consider adding serotonin producing foods to your diet, and dumping the trans fats, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Your waistline with thank you. Your energy levels will thank you. Your mood will thank you. Your butter will thank you as you smother it on a hot out of the oven, carb filled dinner roll. Makes me happy just thinking about it!!
Have you changed your diet and noticed an increase in energy, happiness and general well being? Please tell us about it.
What else can increase serotonin levels? Sunlight, Sleep, and relaxation! We will explore those next.
*Note: Nothing I share here can or should be construed as medical advice. These are my thoughts and ideas only, meant to spur anyone interested into thinking outside the box of traditional health care. Take the time to do your own research and talk to your health care professional.
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