The Top 5 Feel-Good Foods
Many people can remove recreational drugs and other obvious ‘magic-blockers’ from the picture and still be prone to suffering from depression, mood swings and constant fatigue. If you’re in that category (like I was), it’s important to note that there are treatment options for overcoming depression without swallowing pills…
(Note: This post is a free excerpt from my book The Journey Back to Bliss).
It was my personal experience that doctors seemed to be prescribing anti-depression pills based on guesswork, and often they simply don’t work effectively (they certainly didn’t for me). Not suprisingly, many of the symptoms of depression can be directly linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the standard westerner’s diet, and not some mystical imbalance of serotonin (as I was led to believe).
Depression, mood swings and fatigue often have a common cause: poor nutrition. Getting back to feeling the magnificence and magic of life is sometimes as easy as changing your diet and boosting your consumption of key foods that deliver brain-boosting nutrients and help regulate brain chemistry.
Top 5 Foods for Overcoming Depression & Fatigue
The bottom line is that, to encourage the magic in our minds, we need to put the good stuff in our bodies. That ‘good stuff’ primarily includes omega-3s, B and C vitamins, and folic and amino acids. Whenever possible, I believe it’s best to get them in their natural form rather than using supplements, so here’s a short-list of what to look out for in the supermarket…
1. Walnuts, Flaxseed and Oily Fish like salmon or tuna (Omega-3s):
Participants in a study took just a gram of fish oil each day and noticed a 50% decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts, and decreased sex drive.
2. Brown Rice (B1, B3, Folic Acid):
Besides the vitamins and folic acid, brown rice also releases glucose into the bloodstream gradually, preventing sugar lows and mood swings. Instant varieties of rice do not offer these benefits, so if you see “instant” on the label, avoid it.
3. Brewer’s Yeast (B1, B2, B3, Amino Acids, Minerals):
Brewer’s yeast should be avoided if you do not tolerate yeast well, but if you do, mix a teaspoonfull into a smoothie each day. This superfood includes 16 amino acids, which are vital for the nervous system, so brewer’s yeast is fantastic for feeling the magic!
4. Whole-Grain Oats (Folic Acid, B6, B1):
Oats help lower cholesterol, are soothing to the digestive tract and help avoid the blood sugar crash-and-burn that can lead to mood swings. Other whole grains such as kamut, spelt and quinoa are also excellent choices for delivering brain-boosting nutrients and avoiding the pitfalls of refined grains such as white flour.
5. Cabbage (C, Folic Acid):
Cabbage can help protect against stress, infection and heart disease, as well as many types of cancers. There are lots of ways to get cabbage into your diet; toss it in a salad instead of lettuce, use cabbage in place of lettuce wraps, stir fry it in your favorite Asian dish, make some classic cabbage soup or juice it. (By the way, to avoid gas after eating cabbage, add a few fennel, caraway or cumin seeds before cooking). Cabbage is also a good source of blood-sugar-stabilizing fiber, and the raw juice of cabbage is a known cure for stomach ulcers.
Even better than just plain cabbage, Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that supports your microbiome due to it’s lactic acid bacteria—so it can have a significant impact on your wellbeing (particularly if you’re not already eating probiotic yoghurt or taking some other sort of microbiome support supplements).
Well, I’m feeling the magic just writing about this stuff. I might jump into the kitchen and go fix myself a big bowl of happiness right now… It’s a shame all of these Top 5 don’t go together terribly well, otherwise we could package it up and call it Super-Mega-Happy-Magic-Food or something!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Four recommendations that didn’t quite make the Top 5 are avocado, chromium, selenium and iron.
- Avocado is one of those super-foods that’s great for many reasons (including feeling the magic!).
- Chromium—which isn’t so much a food as a supplement—has been proven to make a significant difference to many suffering depression, and I can highly recommend including it in your diet (you may need to ask for it at your local health food store).
- Selenium is apparently really important as it helps thryoid function, and if basically your thyroid is stuffed then youíre in big trouble! (Note: I’m not medically trained—as you can probably tell—so please forgive my non-technical terms!)
- Iron is one for the ladies! I’ve been told that, along with omega-3s, iron depletion is a major factor linked with depression in women (particularly because of the metabolic needs of pregnancy). You can get iron in meat, organic green vegetables and dark fruits, but to make sure you’re getting a decent “fix”, specific iron supplements with B vitamins are best.
So, once you’ve taken a little time to rustle up some new recipes (go you good thing!), perhaps take time to recognise other inputs that may be robbing you of your mental clarity and subsequently your access to the magic of life. Happy eating!