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Top 10 Foods to Battle the Blues

 width=It is said that food and mood could well be connected. If you are not eating enough of the right food, and especially foods that contain certain nutrients such as amino acids, minerals, fatty acids, protein, and carbohydrates that are needed for the body to manufacture its all important neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphin, glutamine and serotonin, you could be at risk of some level of depression.

Listed are 10 foods and other ways to battle the blues

But there is no pressure to start embracing them all – they are just suggestions that you might find helpful

1. Changing to include some raw food in the diet is one such suggestion. A raw food lifestyle is all about keeping it simple with no calorie counting or worrying about sizes of portions but just natural, nutrient-rich foods. If you can include some raw foods daily, your will soon notice the benefits including looking younger, stronger nails, clearer skin, brighter eyes and most important of all – the lifting of depression.

2. Magnesium is highly important and in fact chronic emotional and mental stress (as well as many other health problems) is associated with its deficiency. Unfortunately, we often do not get enough magnesium from our foods due to common farming practises unless we have access to home grown or local organic supplies. Magnesium supplements come in several forms and any magnesium and calcium intake should be balanced too in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. Epsom salts are mostly made of magnesium. So an extra benefit is to soak in a tub with 1/2 cup of these salts, helping to replenish your magnesium.

3. Eating protein with every meal (whether fish, free range and organic poultry and eggs, nuts, dairy, chickpeas, lentils and more) helps the food last longer in your stomach and bloodstream, prevents blood sugar crashes and also keeps you "up" and alert for two to three hours afterwards, while remembering that a diet too high in protein and too low in carbs will make most people feel moody.

4. The frequent consumption of foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids leads to a lower incidence of mild to moderate depression when compared to those who do not. Fish such as salmon (especially wild) and tuna are rich in mood-protecting omega-3 fatty acids but with the concern about sustainability of fish sources, as well as the presence of mercury and other toxins that can be found in fish, means that many have turned to fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds instead to protect against anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness and even a decreased sex drive. 5. Leafy greens will give you plenty of folic acid. Research has found that many who are depressed have low folic acid levels. In addition, antidepressant medications (if taken) can be less effective if folic acid levels are low. Consider taking a supplement, and make sure you eat lots of leafy greens such as spinach and kale plus lentils, asparagus and peas.

6. Another source of folic acids, as well as the vitamins B1 and B3, is brown rice which is also a low-glycemic food so any glucose is released into the bloodstream gradually, preventing sugar lows and mood swings. Brown rice has the added health advantage of providing many of the trace minerals we need to function properly, along with being a high fiber food.

7. Brewer's Yeast is a further source of the B vitamins as well as a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals including 16 amino acids and 14 minerals. It is the amino acids that are vital for the nervous system helping to treat depression.

8. Whole grains such as oats, kamut, spelt and quinoa will deliver further nutrients to boost the brain, soothe the digestive tract and help avoid blood sugar spikes that can lead to concerns about mood swings. So much better than refined grains.

9. Cabbage is another great source of folic acid as well as vitamin C. Include cabbage often in your diet to protect against stress and so much more. If you are worried about gas, add a few fennel, caraway or cumin seeds before cooking. The raw juice is a known treatment for stomach ulcers – another good indicator of too much stress and anxiety.

10. Three final foods to add into the mix can be delicious treats too – they are raw cacao, dark molasses and Brazil nuts and the perfect way to boost brain function and eliminate depression.

What foods to avoid

Just as important as following these top 10 foods to battle the blues is the avoidance of certain foods including all junk, processed and convenience foods while at the same time making sure you eat your meals regularly, however busy you might be. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast. Eating a balanced breakfast and making a point to eat regularly will keep your blood sugar and mood stable, while lowering your intake of high calorie, high processed sodium and high sugar foods will reduce your chances of experiencing depressive symptoms no matter what your age. Not only does your body work more effectively on healthier fuel, but you could be less likely to suffer from conditions such as chronic lower back pain and the symptoms of arthritis which can lead to depression. Although alcohol may give an initial relaxed happy boost, it is actually a significant depressant so anyone with mood problems should stay clear of alcohol. Be aware that some commonly prescribed drugs can contribute to depression too.

Vitamin D

It is also no secret that your levels of vitamin D can affect your state of the blues. Higher levels have been shown to significantly lower depressive symptoms. Not for nothing is vitamin D often called the “feel good” hormone. Aim for a level of well over 50 ng/ml – but preferably in the region of 75-100 ng/ml - for maximum health and feeling good benefits through frequent exposure of as much skin as possible to the sunlight for 20 minutes or so during those two hours either side of noon and supplementing with vitamin D3 when necessary. To be sure of your levels, it is wise to be tested. Never underestimate the damage that depression can do. While lifestyle and nutrition changes may well be the way to go, depression is a treatable condition that responds not only to medication but to newer forms of psychotherapy. If you feel the signs and symptoms, do not put off seeking help.