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Exploring the Link Between Diet and Depression

How Foods Affect the Way You Feel

Most people know that the foods you eat can affect your physical health, but few are aware that your diet can also impact your mental health . Think of your brain as a luxury car that needs the right type of fuel to function properly. If your brain doesn't get the premium nutrient-rich foods it needs, your mental health can suffer as a result.

Here's an overview of the foods you should indulge in, and the foods you should avoid, to improve the way you feel:

Improve your mood with these delicious foods

There are many types of foods that you should incorporate into your diet to boost your mood.

Start by eating fatty fish , like salmon, mackerel, herring and lake trout twice a week. The omega-3 fats found in these fish create and strengthen neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain, which can increase serotonin production and improve your mood.

Fish isn't the only food that contains omega-3 fats, either. Other sources of omega-3s include walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and canola oil.

Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables , too. Studies have shown that eating more than the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables can drastically improve your mood . All fruits and vegetables aren't created equally, though — stock up on colorful fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

B vitamins also play an essential role in the production of chemicals that regulate your mood. Research has shown that low levels of certain B vitamins , including folate, B-12 and B-6, may put you at a higher risk of developing depression. Stock your pantry full of foods that are rich in B vitamins, including leafy greens, eggs, milk, beans, chicken and yogurt.

Limit your intake of these foods

Many people think of sugary snacks as comfort foods, but the truth is that these sweets won't make you feel better. In fact, eating too many simple sugars can increase your risk of depression . It's perfectly fine to indulge once in a while, but save the sweets for special occasions, so you don't overdo it.

It's important to note that a lot of foods that seem healthy actually contain a lot of sugar. Look for products that do not contain corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, lactose or sucrose, which are all different types of sugars.

It's best to avoid foods and drinks that contain aspartame , too. Diet sodas, sugar-free ice cream and fruit juices are all candidates for this artificial sweetener, which can block the production of serotonin, which in turn negatively affects your mood.

You can also improve your mood by reducing your intake of refined or processed carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice. Eating refined or processed carbohydrates will cause your blood sugar level to spike rapidly. But what goes up must come down, so your blood sugar levels will eventually crash. The unpleasant result is that you may feel tired, irritable and anxious. Reach for whole wheat breads, pastas and rice to avoid a blood sugar crash.

Eating healthy isn't a cure for depression, but the right diet can improve your mood and general wellbeing . Make sure your diet is full of foods that will have a positive effect on your mood so you can look and feel your best.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your family overcome life's greatest challenges. Contact us today!