Research shows that diet can play a big role in easing the signs of depression and anxiety symptoms. This is because food contains certain substances that influence the level of chemicals in the brain responsible for our mood. Eating more of the foods that have a positive influence on the feel-good chemicals in the brain can help combat depressions symptoms. Here are some of the top foods to beat depression.
Foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fibre, such as wholemeal bread, pasta and wholegrain cereals, balance blood sugar levels, reducing mood swings, whilst also increasing levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. These foods are also packed with B vitamins, which support a healthy nervous system.
Any foods that are rich in the mineral selenium can have a positive influence on our mood levels, which may reduce depression symptoms. Brazil nuts are a fabulous source of selenium.
Essential fatty acids
A diet rich in essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, can maintain healthy brain chemistry and reduce some brain disorders, including depression. Oily fish such as sardines and salmon are good sources of omega-3s, whilst flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans are also beneficial.
Chemicals in the brain called endorphins can have a calming effect on our mood, reducing anxiety symptoms and depression. Certain foods are said to raise the levels of this feel-good chemical, such as chillies and dark chocolate, so include these in your diet to boost your mood. Dark chocolate also contains a mood-enhancing chemical called phenylethylamine.
Foods rich in vitamin B have been linked with reduced anxiety, panic attacks and depression. B vitamins help balance the chemicals in the brain and keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Foods rich in B vitamins include turkey, bananas, wholegrains and potatoes.
Foods to avoid
Some foods are thought to exacerbate depression symptoms, so should be avoided. Anything containing refined sugars, such as biscuits and cakes, can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which influences mood. Alcohol and caffeine should also be limited. Surprisingly, being dehydrated can trigger anxiety symptoms so drink plenty of water.