“You are what you eat”…
…but really, this couldn’t be more true! I have always felt that there HAS been a strong connection between what people eat and how they feel- emotionally, mentally and of course physically.
As more and more research comes out proving the connection between mood and food, I get more and more excited, because it really validates what I’ve been preaching for years with my clients.
Recently, there has been more attention (and money) spent on investigating the potential connection between food and mood. According to studies, which were recently mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, there is a strong connection between your mood, and the food you consume.
Based on recent findings, it turns out that it may also be beneficial to start treating issues like depression with food- maybe even before turn to pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals (which of course makes people like me, absolutely THRILLED).
To help you understand what the research is saying, I’ve summarized a few recent studies.
Here’s what the research has been finding:
- This study included 166 people and looked at the difference over 12 weeks of providing social support treatment (a well recognized form of treatment for depression) versus dietary counseling. Those who were given dietary counseling had significant improvement in their depression symptoms.
- This study was performed by comparing results over 3 months between those on a Mediterranean diet and fish oil (supplements lasted for 6 months) supplements versus those in social support groups. The results of this study found that at 3 months the group who was on the Mediterranean diet protocol had better mental health scores, that were sustained at 6 months too. The study also found that reduced depression was correlated with increased variety and quantity of plant-based foods found on the mediterranean diet.
- This study found that those who adhered to the DASH diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which is very similar to the Mediterranean diet over time were 11% less likely to suffer from depression.
How can you do it too? Here’s our tips for eating for your brain:
- Include healthy fats: Fat is on the top of the list for many when it comes to food fears. I have so many clients who are afraid of eating fat for fear of getting fat. It’s important for you to know that you wont get fat from eating fat (you can gain weight from anything you eat, frankly). Choose these types of fats:
- Avocado/olive/coconut oils (unrefined)
- Fatty fish like salmon (wild of course)
- Raw cocoa
- Cut out refined sugars (it’s hard, but do your best): This means anywhere you can cut back on ADDED sugar (not fruit sugar but the white, crystalized sugar). Eating processed foods especially that are higher in sugar may negatively affect your mood. I’m a BIG believer in everything in moderation, and we know that I certainly enjoy my dessert- but when you choose to have sugar, try to make it the best quality you can.
- Focus on these nutrients/foods:
- Folate: Green leafy vegetables (the darker the green the more folate), whole grains (buckwheat, wheat berries, quinoa, brown rice), nuts, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, okra, lentils, citrus fruits (strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges)
- B6: Chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, pinto beans, grassfed beef, blackstrap molasses, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, avocado
- B12: Chicken, fish, eggs, red meat, nutritional yeast
- Magnesium: Green leafy veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds
- Omega 3 fatty acid: Walnuts, chia seeds, fatty fish like salmon
- Cocoa/cacao: Yes, chocolate- raw chocolate though. It’s so good for your brain and for your mood. Make sure you buy organic though- because they’re not all created equal
- Turmeric: This anti-inflammatory nutrient is also really powerful for blood sugar control and brain health. Include this whole or ground like in powder form
Here’s an example of how to eat for a day with brain health in mind:
Here’s the take home…
Overall, if we can begin to look at our food as fuel for our bodies to be healthy, feel better, work better- we can think about how important it is to need to view food as our medicine, since there are lots of benefits to improving your diet, including weight loss and better management of existing health conditions. When my clients change the way they eat, they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally, and how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce poor quality foods into their diets.
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