Health - Alternative Medicine
By: - at September 24, 2013

Top 15 Foods that Help Prevent Depression

Foods that make you happySadly, depression isnít as rare or obscure as many people have come to believe. This is partially due to the our society's negative view of mental health originating as far back as the Middle Ages, spanning all the way through the radical transformation in the mental health community that was earmarked by the closing of state asylums nationwide by the 1980s. By leaving treatment up to the community and by inspiring a more accepting view of those who suffer from mental illness, the number of people who are seeking treatment for some form of mental illness has increased drastically. With a more open attitude towards mental illness, many patients have been able to receive help who, prior to the latter part of the 20th century, would have been ashamed to discuss these issues even with their family doctor whom they may have had a pretty healthy patient-doctor relationship.

There are also certain natural foods that are full of components that encourage the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin works in the brain by helping to relay messages from one region of the brain to the other. Serotonin works on brain cells that are responsible for things like mood, sexual desire and performance, regulating sleep, controlling appetite, learning and long-term memory, maintaining and regulating body temperature, and regulating healthy social behavior.

A change in your diet can give your body the energy and materials it needs to pick back up on the production and healthy utilization of serotonin. Coping with depression does not mandate that you take medications, and this list is an opportunity to look into natural remedies that can help decrease the chances of having a temporary imbalance result in a life-long disease. It is important to note here that if you or someone you know is suffering from clinical depression, or has been depressed for a long period of time without a plausible cause, whoever it may be needs to seek medical help immediately! Depression can be a deadly disease in some cases, especially if it is left untreated. Take a look and try your way through these 15 foods that really can make you, and keep you, happy:

15)  Apricots
Apricots for DepressionYou might have underestimated this fruit until now but when you discover what it can do for your mind and body, you certainly wonít do so any longer! Other than being an indicator that summer has come, it is specifically relevant to those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression).

Apricots can be easily worked into your regular food intake because they can be eaten raw, dried or added to savory dishes. Dried apricots have greater nutritional value than fresh ones because they have a higher concentration of the vitamins A, E, C, iron and potassium. These elements keep your body healthy and fight depression. Please keep in mind that during the drying process of apricots the fruits are exposed to sulfur dioxide gas to preserve them and sulfites are used. People with asthma or a rare sulfite sensitivity can suffer from reactions to these preserving chemicals.

14)  Sour Fruits
Sour Fruits for DepressionSour fruits help you lose weight, improve the health of your heart and pull a hilariously funny face for you and everyone else to laugh at; this gives sour fruits a nice plus for being a depression preventer. One of the most well-known effects of sour fruits, especially lemons, is their ability to give your immune system a boost. During the winter months a cup of hot lemon tea will not only warm your heart and brighten your spirits but it will also give your body the fuel it needs to keep running smoothly. Cranberries are also a member of the sour fruit family and are wonderful at preventing cancer when the fruit is consumed whole. This means that just drinking cranberry juice, which actually contains large amounts of granulated sugar, wonít do the trick.

13)  Sweet Potatoes
Help depression with Sweet PotatoesAt some point you might have heard from someone, most likely an older family member, that vegetables and tubers orange in their coloring are good for your eyes. Sweet potatoes are one of those orange tubers that contain beta-carotene, which can also be found in carrots. Besides keeping your eyes in good shape for seeing, sweet potatoes are more than just the sweet versions of the plain old potato. They are full of antioxidants that help prevent depression via destroying free radicals in your body, which wreak havoc on your cells, and they are a good counter to the heavy metals that unavoidably find their way into your system. Unlike most starchy foods, sweet potatoes are not transformed into simple sugars in our digestive tract; they lower blood sugar levels, making it ideal for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. A healthy blood sugar level is a step to a healthier body, which helps in the fight against depression.

12)  Melons
MelonsMelons are good for your heart because they maintain your metabolism with the help of vitamin B6 that helps to elevate the mood and is responsible for helping your body convert other chemicals into dopamine as well as adrenaline. Melons are also capable of reducing your blood pressure, which in turn lowers your likeliness to feel stressed. If thereís one thing that makes anyone depressed, itís stress!

11)  Strawberries
Strawberries Can Help Fight Against DepressionThere really shouldnít be any additional reason needed to enjoy strawberries, theyíre sweet, they look like hearts and taste delicious in all kinds of desserts or just as they are. Strawberries are beneficial to your cardiovascular system, which is the motor of your mind and body that keeps it running smoothly. A clean cardiovascular system keeps the blood flowing and helps kick depression to the side.

10)  Soy

Natto (Fermented soy):
Eat Natto for depression

The number of variations in soy products is amazing and they are growing in numbers. As the perfect alternative for vegetarians and vegans, soy products have established themselves in western supermarkets for healthy eaters. They substitute for meat products and offer a natural alternative to those suffering from lactose intolerance. Thereís a good reason other than the versatility of soy beans to start incorporating any product made from them into your regular diet. Soy beans contain mentally strengthening omega-3 oils, B vitamins and antioxidants, which are necessary for your physical as well as mental health. If your body is healthy then keeping your mind healthy isnít quite as big of a challenge when trying to prevent depression. The best part about this alternative product is that itís free of cholesterol, thus allowing you to enjoy soy products without a hint of guilt. The abilities and possibilities of soy were presented during the 16th Soy Symposium, which is sponsored by the United Soybean Board and the Soyfoods Association of North America. Researchers have confirmed at the Symposium that the consumption of soy does not increase the risk of breast cancer, lower testosterone or raise estrogen levels. What it does do is lower your cholesterol and your risk of suffering from a heart disease.

Choose fermented soy such as natto or tempeh if you can.  Fermented soy is healthier than non-fermented soy and is one of the healthiest foods you can eat to prevent depression.

9)  Complex Carbohydrates

Rolled oats:
Rolled oats helps to increase serotonin

If youíre trying to live a fulfilling depression free active life then youíll be needing carbohydrates. Theyíre your main source of energy and without them no amount of food from this list will make you happy. Any diet plan that tells you to swear off carbohydrates completely is not healthy, even if youíre only avoiding them for a short period of time. Switch to complex carbohydrates to prevent yourself from feeling like youíre committing a weight-loss sin. These carbs have a positive effect on your overall mood because they contain B vitamins that activate your bodyís serotonin production. The amount of time your body takes to digest complex carbohydrates is also good for your blood sugar levels. The faster your body digests what youíve eaten, the higher your blood sugar spikes before rapidly declining. Then you will be on a not-so-fun rollercoaster- ride when you experience mood swings with a concentration issues, exhaustion, food cravings, and overeating to balance out your constant changes in blood-sugar levels. Slow your body down a bit by trying to avoid processed and overly refined foods. These foods usually contain white flour and processed sugar. Both of those are always the first things that need to go when youíre aiming for a healthier life because they are to quick to digest and then itís right back to square one with the depression.

8)  Chili Peppers
Chili Peppers Can Prevent DepressionIf youíre wondering why cultures all over the world enjoy using an ingredient that provokes your tongues pain receptors then this might be the reason why. Chilies donít only burn you, they burn diseases right before it gets a chance to settle in your body. They contain various vitamins, such as:  vitamin C, B6 and B1. Their vitamin C content in chilies are so high that 100 grams of chili has 240% vitamin C in it. The University of Tasmania published a research paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2006, advocating the use of chilies in keeping your blood sugar levels low and thinning your blood while boosting your circulation. For your mental health, this means no mood swings, no unnecessary stress from high blood pressure and reduced chances of getting depression.  If you do fall prey to the occasional feeling of stress while eating chilies, you donít have to worry about the possible damages it could have on your body. Chilies contain antioxidants that bind free radicals, which are theorized to cause damage to your cells and are a factor in the aging process. Another effect of chilies is that they help the release of endorphins, which are the neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure and aid against depression. This is why chilies are often named as foods that are profitable for your bedroom activities because they literally spice up your life.

7)  Organ Meats

Cow Liver:
Organ Meats Like Liver Can Prevent Depression

Thereís no better way to divide people into two groups than to have those who love organ meats, like kidney and liver, in one corner and those who absolutely despise them in the other. This anti-depressant health food brings many health benefits to the table because they are rich in iron, especially liver. Iron binds oxygen in your blood cells, therefore improving the oxygenation of your vital organs, most importantly your brain. As with every other food on this list, thereís also no way around the B vitamin family. B6 and chromium are prevalent nutrients found in organ meats that convert protein to dopamine and adrenalin. Dopamine is sometimes called the reward neurotransmitter, while adrenaline makes you wide awake and full of attention. If youíre unsure if you should try eating organ meats because your worried about consuming stored toxins then you can relax. The function of the liver on any living creature is to neutralize any consumed toxins, anything that canít be neutralized is deposited into fat tissues and the nervous system. What they do store are vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, folic acid, copper, and iron; a very impressive list for just one ingredient of your meal. Organ meats might be one of the most horrible things youíve ever tasted but consider giving them another chance. One of the mildest tasting organ meats is calf liver and its the most tender, you can try soaking this type of raw liver in apple cider or buttermilk before cooking to ease the taste even further.

6)  Dark and Leafy Greens
Eat your greens!You may think that vegetables can never be as awesome as a good steak but in return a good steak can never be as awesome as these vegetables in terms of nutritional value. The selection of greens that have a positive effect on your mental health and stability is immense. Spinach, kale, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, turnips, romaine lettuce and peas are the main veggies that pop up when youíre looking into brain-doping foods. These gifts of nature are packed with things you need on a daily basis because they contain folic acid, which aids anti-depressants while acting as an anti-depressent.  Folic acid is a member of the B vitamin family, which can help prevent certain types of cancer and keeps nerves strong. A research study conducted in Finland and California has shown results on just how important folic acids are for you. When a patient had low levels, they were most certainly suffering from depression.

5)  Fish
What makes fish a powerful addition to your weekly diet is the omega-3 oils, which keep you from becoming depressed. The human body cannot naturally produce any of the three fatty acids of the omega-3 family. Consuming omega-3 oils strengthens your brainís nerve cells, making communication with each other far easier. You can find these oils mainly in wild salmon, cod liver oil and mackerel. You may not have understood why your mother or grandmother forced you to eat a spoonful every day of the cod liver oil  but they were definitively doing you a favor. Besides giving your nerve cells more power, omega-3 oils break into a chemical that is the building stone for the brains emotional centers called DHA. Twenty percent of your gray matter is made up of DHA, the more gray matter you have in your amygdala, hippocampus and cingulate of the brain then the happier youíre likely to be.

Fish Can Prevent Depression

4)  Go Nuts!
Nuts Can Prevent DepressionHealth advisors and dieticians are nutty about nuts! Many lists of food that are beneficial to human body have nuts in them because they feed your brain and body. Nuts provide your body with Vitamin E to protect you better against stress and magnesium to influence your brainís serotonin production. Theyíre a wonderful alternative if you arenít a fan of seafood and are trying to avoid supplements but donít want to miss out on the health benefits omega-3 oils bring. The powerhouse among the nuts are by far Brazil nuts because these are rich in selenium.   Selenium supports your body and brain in keeping your mood relatively stabilized and depression free. Six Brazil nuts a day is enough to reach the daily recommended amount of selenium your body needs. Make sure that any type of nuts you prefer to eat is unsweetened and unsalted. Eating salted or sugared nuts will make you crave more and before you know it, youíll have overeaten.

3)  Bananas and Plantains
Bananas and Plantains are great anti deperession foodsThe  happy sunshine yellow color of bananas is an indicator of what they can do in your nutritional fight against depression. This fruit contains high levels of tryptophan, a chemical your body converts into depression stomping serotonin. If that isnít enough to motivate you to enjoy one right now, itís also effective against feelings of stress and helps regulate your blood-sugar levels. For women, this means less PMS symptoms and little to no pill consumption. To get the best results, try their vegetable cousin called plantains. These contain more starch and less sugar than bananas and are meant for cooking. Southern American, Oceanic, Asian, and African cultures appreciate plantains as substitutes for potatoes. Their advantage over the banana is that theyíre richer in vitamin C, A and B6. If you donít quite know what kind of cooked dishes the plantain is suitable for, itís safe to say that you can really just substitute it for a potato. They can be eaten as chips, deep fried, made into soup, or mashed.

2)  Avocado
Advocados Can Prevent DepressionSometimes, avocadoes seem like theyíre hanging somewhere between incredibly healthy and absolutely damaging to your body fat. Eighty-five percent of the calories found in an avocado are fat, however there is a big difference between the fat youíll find in a hamburger and the fat in an avocado. Avocadoes are full of healthy fats, one type is called oleic acid that makes up more than half of the fat content of the fruit. Oleic acids, despite being fats, are helpful when youíre trying to lose weight. Besides the aforementioned healthy fats, avocadoes are high in potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin E. Theyíre also the highest food source of the anti-depression serotonin based tryptophan, which means that the avocado can keep up with the lowest doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIís). If you add avocados to your regular diet, you can avoid ever needing SSRI's. Please remember that you should never substitute a prescribed medication with something else without consulting your physician first, even if itís a natural product. 

1)  Dark Chocolate
You most likely knew about this one, since there are very few people who donít feel immediately happier when they eat chocolate. To maximize the depression fighting effect chocolate has on your mood, it needs a high cocoa content of 60% or more. While the texture, taste and smell alone will cheer you up, the happiness-inducing element that you can only see on a microscopic level is called phenylethylamine.  This chemical encourages your body to produce anadamine, which is a neurotransmitter that makes you happier and targets the same brain area as THC. That may be the reason itís so easy to get addicted to chocolate and so hard to resist it. However, giving in to the temptation of just gorging yourself on a whole block of chocolate is counterproductive on your path to happiness through food. Too much sugar lowers your serotonin levels, which can make you depressed.  Luckily, you donít need an entire block even though youíd have to eat more than that to reach the optimal amount of anadamine. Research is not quite clear on why the low levels of anadamine in chocolate still works but their suspicion is that the other chemical components in chocolate can uphold the anadamine levels for a longer time.

Dark Chocolate Can Prevent Depression

Final Words
It's most likely safe to say that there was at least one of your favorite foods on this list. After all, itís no use to offer you some additions to your diet that are supposed to help you feel happier if the foods make you want to duck and run for cover. If some of these foods donít belong to your favorites, go ahead and see if the Internet offers you any alternative cooking methods to move them up in your taste ranking. In addition to eating these foods, donít worry about your weight and give yourself a reason to be depressed about that. Giving yourself a reward every now and then wonít make the needle on your scale burst through the red numbers. The correct balance of these foods might even help you lose some of those extra pounds, control splurges and help you live a depression free life.





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