What Is The Role Of Different Nutrients For Your Brain
Carbohydrates found in food such as grains, starches, fruits and vegetables provide glucose and are the preferred energy source for your brain. Eating carbohydrates trigger the release of the hormone insulin which helps blood glucose enter the cells. When insulin levels rise, more of the amino acid tryptophan can cross the blood brain barrier that affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Neurotransmitters are the bodys chemical messengers used by nerve cells or neurons to speak to one another.
Protein in foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, eggs and dairy provide amino acids. These are the building blocks of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and histamine.
The fats in your brain partly reflect the fats in your diet. About 35% of the brain and nervous system tissue is made of polyunsaturated fatty acids that include the omega-3 essential fatty acids known as EPA and DHA . EPA and DHA have important roles in brain development and in the brain cell signal transduction.
Vitamins, Minerals and More
Minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper and iron as well as B vitamins such as folate, vitamin B6 and B12 are nutrients commonly associated with mental health.
A deficiency in vitamin D has been shown in some research to be associated with cognitive function and possibly depression.
Depression & Anxiety Disorders Are Rising Dramatically
Many rely on therapy and medications to alleviate symptoms, but often this is not enough. Now, we know there has been a missing factor. With the latest scientific advances in neuroscience, nutrition, and the mind-gut connection, we have discovered that how and what we eat greatly affects how we feel, physically, cognitively, and emotionally.
Which Foods Are Important For Brain Health And Cognitive Function
A Mediterranean style diet is not only good for physical health, but also for mental health and cognitive function. Aim for a diet high in plant based foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Include heart healthy fats coming from fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil and legumes, lean meats, poultry and seafood as the foundation of your diet.
Research has shown that diets limited in the above healthy foods and that contain a high intake of saturated fat, trans fat or an excessive processed sugar intake can contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body which changes vascular function in the body. This can increase the risk mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety as well as cognitive decline.
Note that you dont need to eliminate any of these foods, the key is to be mindful of your choices. There is always room for fun and flexibility in our diet and for foods such as desserts and savoury snack foods chosen for taste and social enjoyment. The key is #balancednotclean.
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Try A Mediterranean Diet For B Vitamins
A Spanish study found that rates of depression tended to rise in men — especially smokers — as they got less folate. The same thing happened for women — especially those who smoked or didn’t exercise — but when they got less vitamin B12.
This wasn’t the first study to find a link between these vitamins and depression. Researchers aren’t sure which way the influence goes: do poor nutrient levels lead to depression, or does depression lead people to eat poorly?
In either case, you can get both of these B vitamins from foods in a Mediterranean diet. Legumes, nuts, many fruits, and dark green vegetables have folate. Vitamin B12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.
When You Eat Should Be Part Of Your Diet Plan For Depression And Anxiety
When you eat is an important part of a good diet plan for depression and anxiety. Follow your appetite.
It is common to turn to comfort foods when facing depression, anxiety, or both. This is fine if youre making nutritious choices and doing it when youre hungry. Many times, though, when were depressed, anxious, bored, or otherwise not feeling in our best mental shape, we seek out food despite not being hungry.
Its bad for mental health, too, to skip meals. The brain requires a steady supply of nutrients and a stable blood sugar level to keep moods stable. Many nutritionists recommend eating five or six small meals rather than three large ones to avoid blood sugar spikes and drops as well as dips in the nutrient supply.
The best diet plan for depression and anxiety isnt complicated, nor is it a potentially-dangerous fad diet promising miracle cures. The most effective diet involves balanced, wise nutritional choices to fuel your brain to do its work. Paying attention to how and when you eat are important components of an effective plan, too. Intentionally eat your way to relief from depression and anxiety.
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Worst Foods For Mental Health
The worst foods for mental health can be summed up under the category of processed foods. Processed foods are foods that have added colors, flavors, preservatives, sugar, salt, and fat. Frequently, these foods have had the original nutrition they contained removed and then added back in to fit the manufacturers need for a shelf-stable, cravable item that keeps customers coming back for more.
Nutritionally speaking, many processed foods take more than they give. Studies have repeatedly shown that people who eat more processed foods have more challenges with anxiety and depression.
Specific types of processed foods to avoid are the following:
Foods That Boost Dopamine Levels
Dopamine is the brains feel-good chemical. Its released when we experience a pleasure. It is also known as the reward neurotransmitter and is released when we eat pleasurable foods, such as chocolate and pizza. Foods that boost dopamine levels include:
Caffeine: Coffee and tea: contain caffeine which can increase dopamine levels and make you feel more alert.
Chocolate: Dark chocolate is a better choice to boost dopamine levels. . Chocolates contain small amounts of a compound called phenylethylamine which boosts your dopamine levels.
Protein: Chicken, eggs, meat, fish, legumes, and beansall things that are rich in protein are bound to be rich in tyrosine. This simply means that increasing your non-veg intake can also increase your dopamine levels.
Nuts and seeds: In order to produce dopamine, your body needs to break down an amino acid known as tyrosine, which is present in abundance in nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and seeds such as flax seeds. Snacking on a handful of them during the day can up your dopamine levels and help you a great deal.
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Walnuts: Rich In Mood
Walnuts are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce depression symptoms. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry is especially interesting. The lead authors ask the question, Why is the vast part biological research from genetics to psychopharmacology concentrated on neurotransmitters, when the mammalian brain is approximately 80 percent fat , and there is a growing body of research demonstrating the critical role of lipids in brain functioning? Whats more, the shift in the Western diet away from these necessary omega-3 fatty acids over the last century parallels the large rise in psychiatric disorders in that time.
Table 1 Nutrients Associated With Decreased Anxious And Depressive Symptoms
Nutrient Dietary Sources: How it Works Current Research
Nutrition can have an impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety for some people, just as symptoms of depression and anxiety can have an impact on nutrition. Although scientific findings for some of these nutrients are mixed, overall evidence indicates that a general balanced diet can decrease the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. The nutrients with most success in scientific trials are: antioxidants, protein, and vitamin B-6. Those with less consistent results include: omega-3s, folic acid, and vitamin B-12. Seeing as all of these nutrients are part of a healthful diet, proper nutrition can be an option to supplement other treatment methods for individuals with anxiety and depression.
*Please consult with your physician prior to making any changes to medications. It may also be helpful to discuss specific supplements and dietary changes with an expert in nutrition to help make positive changes to your diet that will last and help you feel healthier.
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Questions To Ask Yourself
Again, its very common to feel low or sad, stressed or anxious, or any combination of the above, on occasion.
All the same, youre the best person to recognize whats typical for you. If you start to experience new, uncomfortable feelings, changes in your energy and motivation, or any other unusual symptoms, it never hurts to connect with a mental health professional for more guidance.
You might wonder whether an online self-test for anxiety or depression could offer more insight about the changes youve noticed. Some people do find these a helpful place to start but a more personalized route might involve asking yourself a few questions:
- Do I spend a lot more time worrying than I have in the past?
- Do I feel sad, empty, or hopeless often?
- Have I lost interest in the things I used to enjoy?
- Have I started to avoid spending time with friends and loved ones?
- Do I worry about things I cant control to the point where I have a hard time thinking about anything else?
- Do I become irritable or annoyed more quickly than I have in the past?
- Do I often feel restless, on edge, or unable to relax?
- Do I cycle through dark, unwanted, or fearful thoughts I cant seem to stop?
- Is it difficult to fall asleep, get enough sleep, or wake up on time most days?
- Have I noticed unexplained pain, tension, or other physical symptoms?
- Do these changes affect my daily life or relationships?
If you answered yes to most of the questions above, it may be time to reach out to a therapist.
End On A Sweet Note With Dark Chocolate And Chamomile Tea
You know those serotonins we keep mentioning? Well, the good news is that chocolate has plenty of these feel good hormones.
Studies show that eating about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for 2 weeks can have a powerful effect on stress levels. This gives us less stress just thinking about it!
So, end your night with a piece of dark chocolate and perhaps some chamomile tea. Just keep in mind that its best to eat chocolate in moderation and to stick to the dark stuff .
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Depressive And Anxiety Disorder
At each assessment the presence of a DSM-IV depressive or anxiety disorder was established using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 2.1 . At the 9-year follow-up assessment participants were classified as controls , current disorder , or remitted disorder .
Additionally, the severity of symptoms was measured. Depressive symptoms were measured with the 30-item Inventory of Depressive SymptomatologySelf Report . The severity of anxiety arousal symptoms was measured using the 21-item Beck Anxiety Inventory and the severity of agoraphobia and social phobia with the 15-item Fear Questionnaire .
Dont Rely On Food To De
Yes, these foods may help reduce your cortisol levels but they wont have a significant impact on their own if youre not prioritizing stress management in other ways.
If you have a healthy diet but youre still incredibly stressed and not sleeping enough, you wont see the results youre looking for with food alone, Barth warns.
The key to lowering stress is a whole-body approach that includes exercising, getting enough sleep and managing chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity all of which can put your body in a prolonged state of inflammation.
And although we cant control our genes or, to some extent, our environment, we can help our bodies when we make smart decisions about the food we eat.
When it comes to our health, nutrition is the one thing we can control, Barth says.
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Healthy Eating For Anxiety And Depression
One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve emotional health is through a healthy diet.
Many physical disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer can be linked to unhealthy eating habits.
But did you know that also emotional and psychological conditions can be improved through a healthy diet?
Healthy eating can help you manage your moods, including stress, anxiety and depression.
Berries: Full Of Cell
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods available to us. I try to have a variety for breakfast in the morning. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, patients were treated for two years with antioxidants or placebos. After two years those who were treated with antioxidants had a significantly lower depression score. Antioxidants are like DNA repairmen. They go around fixing your cells and preventing them from getting cancer and other illnesses.
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Foods That Reduce Inflammation In The Brain And Body
When youre feeling anxious, depressed or just plain low, its really tempting to reach for sugar. It may seem like a quick fix, but the truth is that sugar causes inflammation in the body, which can actually make anxiety and depression worse.
Fruits/Veggies blueberries, raspberries, spinach and kale
Whole Grains quinoa and brown rice
Beans/Legumes black beans and lentils
Check this link for healthy snacks that help reduce inflammation.
I hope you have enjoyed this article on how to eat a diet that will help lower your anxiety and depression.
If youre interested in learning more about this topic, book a free health blueprint consultation with me.
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Foods I Eat Every Day To Beat Depression
Adding the right produce, nuts, and seeds to my diet is my top strategy for good mental health.
Among all the strategies to safeguard my mental health, eating the right foods ties for first as the most important. Recently I did some substantial research on which foods promote sanity and which ones send an alarm to your limbic system and cause inflammation. I decided to eliminate gluten, dairy, caffeine, and sugar from my diet. I also started eating fresh produce throughout my day and made the commitment to hit the grocery store a few times a week.
As a result, I feel more emotionally resilient and less vulnerable to the impact of stress and drama on my mood.
Here are some of the foods I eat every day to feel good. They provide the nutrients my body needs to fight off inflammation in my brain, which leads to depression.
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What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
Foods That Help Or Hurt Anxiety
Studies show that some foods boost mood while others worsen stress and anxiety. Learn about foods to eat or avoid to reduce anxiety.
Looking for food that helps with anxiety? Studies have shown that some foods make us feel calmer while other foods can act as stimulants at least temporarily. If you experience stress that results in anxiety or panic attacks, making some modifications to your diet may give anxiety help and relief.
Stress describes the many demands and pressures that all of us experience each day. Stress may be physical, mental, emotional, or chemical in nature. Just about anything you encounter can cause stress.
Anxiety is a sign or symptom of stress. Quite often it is the persistent interruptions, hassles, and struggles you face each day that cause anxiety, not lifes catastrophes or disasters. For instance, listening to a phone ringing constantly, hearing a new babys cries, or worrying about paying bills can cause stress that leads to anxiety.
When you are anxious for days or weeks, it is called chronic anxiety. The problem with chronic anxiety is that it can lead to health problems over the long term. While there are no quick fixes, you can combat the destructive effects by eating to boost or reduce certain chemicals in your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your diet cannot cure anxiety. But there are foods that help with anxiety and have a calming effect in the body, while other foods cause anxiety after eating.
Here are some suggestions:
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Beans: Satisfyingly High In Mood
Beans, beans, good for the heart. The more you eat, the more you … smile. They make the G-BOMB list because they can act as anti-diabetes and weight-loss foods. They are good for my mood because my body digests them slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar levels. Any food that assists me in evening out my blood sugar levels is my friend. They are the one starch that I allow myself, so on top of a salad, they help mitigate my craving for bread and other processed grains.
Dont Expect These Meals To Magically Change Your Day
A salad isnt going to prevent the feeling you get when emails or social expectations wont stop coming.
In fact, the study about L-theanine found that cognitive performance didnt really change, which sucks to hear but also take it this way: your anxiety isnt you.
And there are many other therapeutic methods you can build and develop.
Think of your anxiety tool kit like a magician who needs more than one trick. Food is the natural source for you to maintain energy for all your other coping mechanisms, like breathing, CBT, and talk therapy.
Oh but before we forget, potential anxiety-inducing foods heres the official list:
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