When it comes to your mood, do you know what you put into mouth affects your brain, your brain chemistry, the health of your brain and your mood? In fact depression and anxiety are related to what’s on your fork and other lifestyle habits, maybe just as much as your experiences, trauma and genetics. Many nutrient deficiencies, sugar overload and carbohydrate imbalance and poor eating habits mimic symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sometimes an individual cannot even distinguish between the two. Am I depressed or am I hungry?
A) Dietary protein precedes neurotransmitters. If you don’t eat enough good quality protein, you can’t make serotonin. This includes the proteins from good bacteria-organic plain yogurt, kefir, miso, honey, raw apple cider vinegar, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha
2) Nutrients like B vitamins, zinc, magnesium help convert proteins into neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine. They are called cofactors. Antioxidants from green tea, berries, fresh fruits and veggies scavenge free radicals and repair lesions in the brain and arteries
3) Good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated build brain matter and pad brains cells, helping you think properly. Omega 3s are integral in the diet on a daily basis from algae, wild cold water fish, raw walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp, chia, coconut, avocado and red palm oil. They are anti-inflammatory, maintain thinking, memory, mood, cope with stress and reduce plaque formations. Don’t forget about natural vitamins E and D3.
This is why I developed the Food for Mood Diet back in 2007, to help depressed patients address their mood issues through diet. Here are the symptoms of too much sugar in the blood.
|Symptoms of Hyperglycemia (www.mayoclinic.com)
|Increased thirst, dry mouth
|Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
|Nerve damage (causing painful cold or insensitive feet, loss of hair on the lower extremities, and/or erectile dysfunction)
|Mucous membrane and skin infections; slow-healing cuts and wounds
|Stomach and intestinal problems, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea
Do any of them sound familiar? Here’s how you address blood sugar overload.
1) Drink water with lemon when you wake. This will get you revved up in the morning, w/o caffeine. Also, the sour flavor cuts craving for sugar. It reduces stress by switching your nervous system to parasympathetic mode….feel r-e-l-a-x-e-d yet invigorated.
2) Eat breakfast including protein, fiber and good fat. For example: Eat a whole organic egg, a gluten free or Ezekiel toast with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Put some spinach on it. Have an apple, and a spoonful of organic peanut butter (just peanuts!). Have 1/2 cup of steel cut oats with 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, a handful of raisins, some organic plain yogurt or kefir. Good bacteria stimulate the serotonin receptors in your gut. (Yup you can regulate your mood in your intestines too!)
3) Skip the sugar in your coffee or tea as they raise cortisol levels, which in turn raises blood sugar levels. Besides caffeine makes your jittery and should be removed for the most part. Did you know that grande from Starbucks has 450mg of anxiety and stress inducing caffeine?
4) Drink organic green tea, it helps reduce blood sugar spikes and increase metabolism. Take it with a handful of almonds and unsweetened dried cranberries, midmorning.
5) Eat Lunch: Have a cup of miso soup (again, more probiotics), dinner salad with a piece of chicken,tuna, organic tofu or kidney beans with 2-3 cups of salad leaves, fresh herbs, cooked asparagus, a boiled potato, green beans. Think Salad Nicoise and make it your best friend. Never skip the dressing, but always go for the oil and vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette. This lunch is so packed with nutrients, it will help build your mood day by day.
6) Afternoon snack: Eat a piece of dark chocolate or cocoa and coconut milk: (more than 70% and cocoa is the first ingredient). Get rid of that nasty, toxic bleached or colored sugar. It hardens your brain and gives you panic attacks and eventually Alzheimer’s (That is a reason to panic!) Dark chocolate has mood balancing magnesium, and mimickers of serotonin and oxytocin, two hormones that make us feel CALM and LOVED.
7) Absolutely AVOID the all-carb meal: For example; pasta and tomato sauce, dry cereal, plain bagel, roll or crackers, cookies, potato with fat free sour cream. These are empty calories sure to spike your blood sugar, no matter how little you eat. And you will NEVER feel full or well eating only carbs, no matter how much you crave them. You will never feel happy eating a bad white diet like this, never ever Ever EVER.
This is a feel good lunch! This is a mood building lunch. Does your plate look like this?
Photo credit: Yuula Benivolski
Add a healthy dressing of choice: 1 tablespoon of raw olive oil and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon or Bragg’s Amino sauce or tahini or miso or raw apple cider vinegar.
NDNR The Food for Mood Diet
xox Dr. Millie ND oxo