By Dr. Suneil Jain, Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics
It’s widely known that stress, anxiety and depression all affect your mental health, but many don’t know that improving your mood could be as simple as choosing the right food. Your microbiome, which is in the gut, is often referred to as the body’s Grand Central Station because over 80% of serotonin is produced there. So, feeding your microbiome nutrient rich foods may help decrease symptoms of depression.
As a healthy fat, olive oil has hormone-balancing, anti-inflammatory effects that can prevent neurotransmitter dysfunction, ultimately fighting mood disorders and depression. Low-fat diets are often linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. However, not all olive oil is created equal. Make sure to read the label and use olive oil that is free of GMO canola oil and herb flavors.
There is a variety of food filled with omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for normal brain function. Oily types of fish including salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and tuna are rich in omega-3 fats. This is important because omega-3s help to build connections between brain cells and strengthen the receptor sites for neurotransmitters, which leads to increased serotonin production and mood improvement. Hemp, flax and chia are also great plant-based sources of omega-3s.
Cashews, brazil nuts and hazelnuts all contain healthy fats, but walnuts are at the top of the list because they are the best source of omega-3. A study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that adults who ate nuts, and specifically walnuts, were more likely to have higher levels of optimism, energy, hope, concentration and a greater interest in activities.
Eating vegetables can be a huge help because people with depression have been found to have a lower dietary intake of folate compared to those without depression. Dark, leafy greens are rich in folate, fiber and other nutrients which make them a great choice when looking for foods to improve and stabilize mood. Leafy green vegetables are also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is one of the three types of omega-3 fatty acids and is touted for lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, slowed skin aging and improved nerve function.
No Refined Sugar
While foods with refined sugar can give you a boost of energy, your blood sugar will later drop causing the adrenal glands to release stress hormones like cortisol. If refined sugar is consumed on a regular basis, high cortisol levels can cause difficulty concentrating, headaches, weight gain and more leading to higher stress levels. Keeping your blood sugar levels more evenly balanced throughout the day can help your mood stay more evenly balanced too.