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Depression hurts

Depression hurts

 

We all know that depression effects not only one person, but impacts all the loved ones around the person with depression. Alternative medicine is well aware of the intrinsic connection between the gut and the brain, so it comes as little surprise that depression and mood disorders can be greatly influenced by not only genetic predisposition, but by diet and lifestyle as well. Holistic medicine encourages people to discover healing powers of quality nutrition.

 

The First Step in Managing Depression is Eliminating Inflammatory Foods:

Depression is one of the most common conditions in the world and in the US alone it affects 1 in every 10 Americans. Mainstream medicine is becoming increasingly conscious of the connection between our gut health and our mental state, and how the foods we eat can greatly influence the severity of mood disorders. Many doctors are now recommending dietary changes and restrictions in order to reduce symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

Many nutrition experts advocate certain gut healing diets when it comes to successfully treating depression, anxiety, and personality and mood disorders. These are nutritional protocols that will remove all sources of inflammation and toxicity coming to the gut, and allows for only nutritious whole foods that will heal and seal the gut, stopping the flow of toxins from the gut to the brain. There are two specific diets in particular that utilize this sort of approach: One is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, founded by Elaine Gotschdale, and the other is the GAPS Diet, which is based off the SCD diet and was revised by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who healed her son of Autism through implementing this nutritional protocol.

While many holistic health professionals will have different ideas on which dietary choices are best suited for certain mood disorders, there is a general consensus among the health industry that certain foods will only aggravate depression and are best left out of one’s diet. These foods, or rather “non-food” items are best left out of your nutritional protocol if you are dealing with depression or other mood disorders: Sugar, and anything made with it! This includes white sugar, and artificial sugar substitutes and sweeteners such as sucrose, sucralose, corn syrup, nutrasweet, aspartame, fructose, maltose, and any other man-made sweetener that doesn’t belong in nature. Natural sources of sugar such as maple syrup, raw honey, fruits, and stevia are the best choices for sweeteners and can be used in moderation, though excessive consumption of even these can aggravate symptoms of depression. Processed, packaged foods laden with genetically modified ingredients and chemicals are another big No-No for those dealing with depression and mood or personality disorders. These foods are not foods at all; they are chemical snacks designed to be addictive and completely devoid of nutritional value. In fact, they actually deplete your body of nutrients, robbing you of the very essentials your body needs to attain health. Gluten, and any foods containing gluten, have also been linked to depression and mood disorders as it has been proven to actually damage the microvilli in the small intestine, promoting inflammation in the intestines which will in turn promote inflammation in the brain, leading to increased anxiety and depression symptoms.

 

Nourish Your Gut, Boost Your Mood:

While eliminating processed franken-foods is certainly a key-component in managing depression and mood disorders, eating a diet high in nutritional value is essential when dealing with chronic depression. At the heart of depression is a toxic and inflamed gut, and the best way to ease inflammation is two-fold: removing foods that promote inflammation and consuming foods that soothe the gut and provides ample nourishment.

Brain Foods! Providing nourishment for your gut is a direct way to providing nourishment for your brain, and for keeping symptoms of depression at bay. Brain boosting super foods are those that are chock full of amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. All these work to reduce inflammation throughout the body and provide your body with proper nourishment. One of the best sources for soothing gut inflammation while providing ample nourishment is meat stock and bone broth. You know when you were a kid and sick with the flu, and your mom would make you grandma’s recipe of homemade chicken soup? Well, our ancestors had it right when they served up a bowl of chicken soup. Homemade meat stock and bone broth made from organic, free range, and grass-fed animals is chock full of amino acids, vitamins, minerals much needed for your gut and your brain’s optimal functioning. Add in some organic veggies and you got yourself a complete potion that will cure more than the common cold.

Salmon is high in Vitamin D but also Omega 3

Salmon is high in Vitamin D and Omega 3

Think Vitamin B’s and Omega 3′s:

Many health experts have found that people who suffer with chronic depression and mood disorders are deficient in B vitamins, in particular, B12 is often times the one that people are lacking most. B vitamins are essential for brain health, and while supplementing with a B Complex vitamin may seem like a good idea, nothing beats the real thing, so it is always important to obtain most of your vitamin B intake from whole food sources. B12 is present in mostly animal foods, so consuming plenty of organic chicken, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs and organic dairy, as well as organ meats and wild caught fish and seafood. B vitamins are also abundant in dark leafy greens, some gluten free grains like quinoa and brown rice, and lentils. Omega 3′s are another nutrient that are essential for proper brain development and function. Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to positively influence those dealing with depression and mood disorders, as well as those within the autism spectrum disorder, (ASD). Omega 3′s are anti-inflammatory, help to boost immune function, and can only be obtained through food or supplements. Omega 3′s are highly concentrated in wild caught, oily fishes like salmon, tuna, and sardines. It can also be found in walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and flax seeds. If you are not a fan of eating seafood, Omegas can also be obtained through supplements such as fish oils and cod liver oil, which is also high in vitamin A and vitamin D.

Vitamin D

Depression super foods

Depression super foods

Many Americans may not realize that they are deficient in Vitamin D. The significance of such a deficiency is that it is often times linked to lower levels of mood, energy, and mood disorders. Vitamin D is naturally produced by the sun, and is created within our body when we absorb the sun’s rays. However, many people do not live in areas that receive ample amount of sunlight throughout the year, and wearing chemical sunscreens deflect the sun’s vital energy skin, which means that we do not absorb the sun’s rays in a way that produces the Vitamin D. In order to ensure that we receive enough Vitamin D to meet our needs, it is important to supplement with Vitamin D3, which is the natural form that is recognized by our bodies. Vitamin D3 can be found in cod liver oil, fermented cod liver oil, fortified fish oils, other fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as organic, free-range egg yolks. If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, take advantage of the sunshine by ensuring that you wear sunscreens devoid of toxic chemicals; those with zinc oxide as the main ingredient are best, and will help to ensure you still receive the benefits of the sun without burning or damaging your skin. Sitting in the sun for as little as 15 or 20 minutes can be enough of a mood booster to make a difference in your day.

Probiotics and Fermented Foods kefir1-300x254

When talking about brain health, it is the same thing as talking about gut health. It goes without saying that gut health cannot be mentioned without stressing the importance of probiotics and fermented foods. Probiotics are essential for proper gut functioning, as well as boosting immune health. Probiotics means “for life,” and are the healthy bacteria residing in our guts that facilitate digestive processes as well as “talk” to our brains. Probiotics can be found in yogurt, milk kefir, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented beets, carrots, or even pickles (not the vinegar kind you find in the regular grocery stores.) Another great source of healthy probiotics is raw kombucha, a fermented tea beverage that, in addition to probiotic content, also provides a healthy dose of B vitamins, as well as a beneficial strain of yeasts called sacchromyces boulardii, which fights pathogenic candida albicans. All kinds of fermented foods are beneficial for brain, immune, and gut health, and can be found at natural and organic health food stores, as well as can be prepared at home. Making fermented foods at home can be more cost effective, and when it comes to yogurt and milk kefir in particular, it ensures that the probiotic cultures are live and effective. Dairy ferments found in the stores are more often than not pasteurized, which means that the probiotic content is probably not what is found on the label. In addition, most commercial yogurts and kefirs have added sugars and thickeners, which devalues the nature of the product even more. So, it can be more beneficial to purchase organic, preferably grass-fed milk at the store, and make your own yogurt or kefir at home with a starter culture, and add your own sweetener to ensure you are receiving the most health benefits. You can also obtain probiotics through a daily supplement. When choosing a probiotic it is important to seek a high quality supplement with as many strains of bacteria as possible, along with a high concentration of bacterial cells. At a minimum, it should contain at least 8 billion viable cells or colony forming units (CFU’s) per serving. For more information on the connection between gut and brain health, please see our page, The Gut and the Brain. For a recipe on making your own milk kefir at home, please check our recipe section.

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