When we think about improving our mental health, we think about going to therapy, exercising, or meditating. However, good nutrition is essential to good mental health. Your mind is a part of your body, after all, so everything that affects you physically will also affect you mentally. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, you may not think about how food impacts the way you are feeling. But, believe it or not, even a few adjustments in your diet can go a long way towards improving your overall outlook on life.
Here are 5 foods that may help alleviate depressive symptoms:
1. Healthy fats. Healthy fats found in nuts and fish are essential for good brain health. Studies show fish-eaters had a 17% lower risk of depression, and that omega-3 fish oils boosted the effects of antidepressant medications.2. Green vegetables. Leafy greens are filled with folate, an important B-vitamin. Low folate levels have been linked to depressive symptoms, and to having a lower response to antidepressants. Additional studies have shown that serotonin levels rise with a diet rich in folate.3. Fermented foods. Fermented foods are filled with probiotics that help fight gut inflammation. Studies show that gut health is linked to brain health. Brain chemicals, including serotonin, are produced in the gut. Several studies have found that the microorganisms in the gut can help reduce inflammation, produce feel-good neurotransmitters, and change our stress response for the better.4. Dark chocolate. Cocoa beans contain flavonoids, which are plant-based nutrients that are also powerful antioxidants linked to an improved mood. In a study of U.S. women, higher flavonoid consumption was associated with lower levels of depression.5. Turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid. This animo acid boasts mood-boosting benefits because your body uses it to make serotonin.