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Did you know that according to Statistics indicated by WHO (World Health Organization) in its report “Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders. Global Health Estimates ”, between 2005 and 2015 the percentage of depression in the world had increased more than 18%?
A common topic of conversation in today ‘s society is whether it is possible to live happily and relaxed. Although the real question for me would be: can it be achieved naturally? Using the tools we have at hand? Or more specifically, in our refrigerators? The solution may be in natural antidepressants .
First, what does the common diet do?
It is scientifically proven that through food, we can stimulate the production of chemicals that help regulate our state of mind or, and, moreover, many studies apply to unbalanced diets (rich in sugars and ultra-processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables) as a possible cause in the increase in depression levels worldwide.
The components that have been most associated with the appearance of depressive symptoms are the infamous refined sugars, unfortunately still ever present in our meals (many times without us even knowing it). However, let’s focus on what concerns us for this article!
Among the best known substances associated with “good humor” is serotonin – the hormone of happiness! -, and as such is also one of the most used neurotransmitters in antidepressant drugs produced by industries.
This wonder-hormone can be easily and natural produced through conscious eating and including more foods that are natural antidepressants, in our diets.
Healthy, delicious and cheap!
The three keys we look for (or should look for) in anything we eat!
If you’ve been going for traditional treatments, such as: psychoactive drugs and psychological therapies, as long term solutions and your pockets feel much lighter, while, your results have not been the most optimistic;
It is time to reevaluate your options! And it might be time to consciously use our food to achieve what we want, but for that, let’s first find out why the following foods relax us:
Repetition makes perfection!
It is important to remember that although turning to food is going to be easier and cheaper than therapy or drugs, it will not affect your mood immediately. The key to your diet affecting your life, is consistence and the discipline of habit. With habit eventually you will notice that your food is changing your body both physically and emotionally.
More fish and seafood!
The riches from oceans and rivers are excellent sources of Omega-3, a nutrient with an important role in the nervous system, which is why low fish consumption is associated with a higher risk of depression.
Fish are also rich in tryptophan , an amino acid that is essential – since we only get it through food – for our body to produce serotonin . So your daily intake is also key in the pursuit of happiness!
Furthermore, fish are foods rich in vitamin B1 or Thiamine , whose deficiency has been associated with irritability, cause of depression , and lack of concentration and memory problems.
In addition, blue fish (such as salmon, trout, sardines and tuna …) provide us with vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine , which participates in the metabolism of serotonin. As well as B12, which is essential for the nervous system to function properly.
If you are a regular reader of the Natural Athlete blog, then you already know that nuts are foods with high concentrations of tryptophan , and vitamin B1 and B6.
Key fatty acids in the correct development and functioning of the brain and nervous system.
For these and more reasons they are considered excellent natural antidepressants; and, a primary main ingredient for many of our products!
And in addition to being a good snack option, we can use them as a topping for various recipes. So, don’t limit yourself! Enrich your salads, sauces, and even main courses! And let’s not forget peanut butter , as an alternate source for these nutrients.
In all honesty we could write a whole new article, just on this divisive drink! Many say milk is anti-evolutionary because we didn’t evolve with it and just discovered it in the last several hundred years; and they support this argument by reminding us that many people are lactose intolerant, or they simply have a bad ingestive reaction to milk. Then on the other side of things, there are people like me who love an ice cold glass of milk, as well as other dairy products. So, let’s look at this drink from both sides.
Milk contains nutrients that favor the increase of serotonin in our body by providing the “essential” tryptophan. Just always remember to get pure dairy, and not pasturized, because as I say, the less processed a product is, the better! Not to mention, pasturized milk loses vitamins A, C, B, and Folic Acids.
Now, if you are lactose intolerant, don’t fret! Remember that there are vegetable drinks based on nuts that, as I explained in the previous point, are also an excellent option. But if you are just one of those people that cannot drink milk for any reason, that is fine too, we can just call this particular ingredient, optional! Like I said, this is a very divisive ingredient and you should always look out for what makes YOU feel good, and if milk doesn’t do that, feel free to forget this suggestion.
Basically another form of milk, is a good source of tryptophan, and it also provides vitamin B12, fundamental in the proper development of our nervous system.
In addition, cured cheeses, provide vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine, which translates into more serotonin!
Let’s keep eating for the benefit of our peace of mind!
Eggs are rich in tryptophan, and vitamin B12 . In addition, its yolk is rich in phospholipids that are part of the cell membrane of neurons, so its proper consumption contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system.
Fruits and vegetables.
Can’t make a list like this and not include our nutrition’s best allies!
In terms of depression, research has found that people who have a higher consumption of these food groups develop fewer symptoms. They can even reduce the risk of suffering from this disease.
The nutrients associated with these results have been: beta-carotene (precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C, folate and fiber. Probably, because they reduce oxidative activity and favor the formation of new neurons.
In short, all these foods help us ensure that our nerve tissue is well nourished . With this food group in particular, we can say: “A full belly makes happy mind!”.
Remember, eating isn’t everything!
While it’s delicious! There are other tools that are still as good as eating healthy and that are also considered natural antidepressants.
Here you have my favorites:
Physical activity is a fundamental pillar for a healthy lifestyle. But it is that beyond the superfluous “make us look good”, it makes us feel good.
Don’t worry though! I’m not saying you need to jump into extreme sports to stay healthy! Studies indicate that even walking at a slow pace can help fight depression , having the greatest effect if done in a natural environment. So go for a walk around your favorite neighborhood or park! It has no drawbacks and it is free!
Laughing costs nothing.
And it has been shown that laughing has a plethora of benefits, that nowadays therapies are done with this technique, I’m sure you’ve heard of laughter therapy. Laughter is the most economical and accessible natural antidepressant!
Laughing increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine (both hormones of happiness), stimulating a sense of pleasure and calm in our body.
Start laughing at yourself! Psychologists even mention it as an important tool for the development of resilience and problem solving capabilities.
Make like a tree…
Its not only plans that benefit from the sun! A lack of direct sunlight has been associated with a lack of vitamin D and an increased risk of depression and other mental disorders such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. In countries that receive a few months of sunshine a year, they even recommend “sunbathing”.
So never neglect a good amount of sunlight! We aren’t vampires!
Remember: Changing your diet isn’t always enough
While having a healthy lifestyle and taking advantage of these natural antidepressants helps to face difficult situations and put on our best face, it is important to be clear that emotional problems are usually generated from a deeper root, which must be addressed in order to avoid them festering in the future.
Above all, it is important to start being conscious social leaders and “teach through example.” Seek to convey to those around us, and especially to the following generations, that although a healthy lifestyle is a FUNDAMENTAL PILLAR to happy living, the best tools will always be found within us.
My final suggestion is, to raise awareness that the exterior is only a reflection of our interior. That while we can find useful tools in our environment, the best will always be within each of us, with our inner selves, and that is who we must constantly take care of.