Are superfoods nature’s anti-depressant?
Now more than ever, people are more health aware. With information readily available online, and in the palm of your hand, it’s the best time to learn more about nutrition and which superfoods are nature’s antidepressants.
It makes sense to feel confused, there’s so much contradictory information. One confusing topic in particular? Superfoods.
Are superfoods all they’re made out to be? Can they really help improve various symptoms, including symptoms of depression and anxiety?
Let’s break it down…
First, what are superfoods?
- Dark leafy greens
- Green tea
- Nuts and Seeds
- Herbs and Spices
- and more…
All of the above have been classified by wellness marketers and modern diet books as “superfoods.” They’re natural foods that pack a powerful punch in concentrated nutrients. Superfoods isn’t an official term. It has become a powerful label acquired by marketers to sell nutritious foods that used to be, less popular on a mass scale.
Personally, I like that this term has encouraged a wave of interest in exploring a more diverse diet. One that includes quality whole foods, spices, and variety!
When consumed with a balanced diet, certain “superfoods” have been shown to boost your immune system (your body’s ability to fight off illness) because of their naturally high content of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, or omega-3 fatty acids. Many known superfoods are blueberries, salmon, acai, and goji berries. While these superfoods may be quite interesting, they are very common and in the mainstream.
It’s the “behind the scenes” superfoods that I am really interested in exploring here. When it comes to boosting your mood, concentration, and mental state these are some of the secret helpers.
No diet found online is a replacement for the current care you’re receiving from your doctor. With that, more and more mainstream practitioners are turning to nutrition experts to find out how to complement the therapies their patients are receiving. There is enough scientific evidence pointing to the effects of what, when and how much you eat – food affects your mood.
We know that eating a lot of sugar can create a physical response in the body that can deplete your energy and lower your mood.
Another aspect affecting mood is nutrient depletion. When you don’t get enough, or absorb enough of the vitamins and minerals important to help you function. It can have a serious effect on your emotional well being.
Do you know if you’re getting enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, chromium, folic acid, iron, omega-3s, vitamin B6, or zinc?
Most people don’t. That’s where knowing what “superfoods” are what can come in handy.
Let’s review some lesser-known options:
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Atlantic Mackerel
Wild-caught mackerel is a superfood of our Atlantic oceans. This beast of a fish contains high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Which is beneficial to the production of dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter that helps with motivation and feeling pleasure.
Feeling a little foggy? Feeling a little low and unmotivated? You could be lacking some of that dopamine.
Atlantic mackerel is also great because of its low heavy metal toxicity. As fish grow larger, they gather more chemicals and heavy metals due to the pollution in our waters. Since mackerel is a small fish its mercury content is low, which is Phosphatidylserine news for us since mercury can damage our brains.
Mackerel is also special because it contains a difficult to obtain fat called phosphatidylserine. The only other sources of this nutrient are cow brains and small amounts in chicken hearts. Phosphatidylserine is a lipid that protects and layers our cells allowing for proper communication between cells. This lipid also assists in boosting dopamine, memory and decreasing stress levels. This powerful lipid has also been shown to lower cortisol levels, and who doesn’t want less stress in their life?
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts contain soluble fiber, antioxidants, and poly nutrients that help maintain healthy blood pressure. It is known for being one of the richest sources of selenium in the human diet. They can provide way over the RDA with just 3 to 4 nuts.
Since these nuts have such high selenium content that means they have the ability to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, aid in skin care, reduce aging, regulate the thyroid, and fight anxious feelings. Imbalances in the thyroid have been linked with anxiety and depression. Having adequate selenium can help with thyroid health.
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Raw Cacao Nibs/Cocoa Powder
Cocoa, used to make chocolate can be a superfood in its raw form, containing the chemical anandamide, known for its bliss promoting properties. This chemical increases feelings of euphoria and happiness in the individual when it crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Raw chocolate whether in powdered form or in nibs provides high levels of magnesium. Magnesium helps in the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is our feel-good happiness neurotransmitter. The more we have the better!
Magnesium is also known to help relieve stress and fatigue. Cacao also contains theobromine which is a stimulant that can fight fatigue and increase energy levels. Theobromine has also been shown to help with asthma and better breathing by helping to expand the bronchial tubes for better oxygen flow.
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Reishi Mushroom/Powder
Reishi mushrooms are one of the most popular and beneficial types of fungi on the planet. These mushrooms, have recently come to the attention of the wider world but have been relied upon for thousands of years in the Asian region.
Reishi mushroom has been found to help modulate and improve the immune system because it contains beta-glucans and polysaccharides. It can either behave as an immuno-stimulant or it can also calm the immune system down depending on the needs of the individual. Due to its adaptogenic properties and its calming effects on the adrenal glands, Reishi has been found to lower stress and promote greater feelings of calmness, relaxation and peacefulness.
This cancer-fighting mushroom increases the antioxidant content in the blood and prevents tumor growth and proliferation! Common dosages for this mushroom in the powdered form are 2-4 grams daily. The best type of Reishi mushroom comes from a dual-extracted product.
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Avocado
Avocados contain more potassium than a banana and are actually a sugar-free fruit! This means that they won’t cause a harmful effect on blood sugar and can aid in diabetes prevention. Avocados are also loaded with the amino acid L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine is the amino acid precursor that is needed to produce dopamine in the brain.
More dopamine in the brain can mean better focus, increased feelings of pleasure, alertness, and stronger motivation. Loaded with healthy mono-saturated fats and nutrients, Avocados fight inflammation in the body.
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Maca Powder
Known for its aphrodisiac properties maca root powder is a very special superfood. Benefits of maca powder include treating infertility, increasing energy and stamina. Because it is organic, maca has the ability to influence hormones without containing hormones itself. It is said to be an adaptogen because of its ability to regulate mood and influence stress levels in the body.
Maca powder has also been shown to fight depression and lower anxiety levels through its unique ability to modulate the body’s stress response. Maca has also been shown to have a balancing effect on the thyroid which can help with weight loss, energy levels and mood.
Superfoods Nature’s Antidepressants – Beets
Beets are an amazing addition to the diet because they contain high amounts of TMG. Trimethylglycine is a compound that is used to assist the methylation cycle in the body. This means that high levels of TMG in the body can assist in lowering homocysteine which means lowered inflammation.
TMG also helps the liver detoxify the body, all those nasty substances that we don’t want in our bodies. Beets can also help increase your mood because TMG acts as a methyl donor. TMG can assist in the increased production of samE which is known to reduce feelings of depression and increase energy levels.
TMG I’m dynamite, TMG lets go and fight! Since beets contain high levels of b-vitamins, dietary nitrates, and the magical chemical TMG, they can increase athletic performance, libido and mood through increasing nitric oxide production and providing precursors to neurotransmitters.
And that is a shortlist of options, a place to start.
The main point is to mix it up and include more whole food options, including herbs and spices!
If it’s stressful to try to remember it all, the best default is heading to your produce and fresh food section in your nearest grocery stores and trying something fresh, something new, and finding what you like.
That about wraps it up. These are some of the secret Superfoods that boost mood and health. It is quite astonishing to see how our food affects our mood, and it is in my highest hopes that just maybe one of these foods can help you as they helped me.
I know we all just want to feel good, have great health, be happy, and enjoy our lives. Let us start out with these simple steps to get there together, one superfood at a time.