According to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, severe depression is linked with brain inflammation. Here are 4 foods I eat every day as insurance to keep my depression at bay. They give the nutrients my body needs to fight off inflammation in my brain.
An apple a day keeps the depression away :-). One of my favorite snacks is a Gala apple with almond butter. I get my omega-3 fatty acid along with some fiber. Apples are also high in antioxidants which can help prevent and repair oxidation damage and inflammation on the cellular level. When I was younger I would get an upset stomach every time I ate an apple. However, I switched to organic a few years ago and it doesn’t happen anymore. Now it’s one of my favorite snacks to eat in the afternoon!
If you were to choose the healthiest food of all, the most nutrient-dense item available for us to eat, it would be dark, leafy greens. Greens are the first of the G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds) that Dr. Joel Fuhrman describes in his book, The End of Dieting, the foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anti-cancer effect. Leafy greens fight against all kinds of inflammation and are especially important because they contain a ton of vitamins such as A, C, E, and K.
Of all the leafy greens, I prefer spinach. I’ve had people ask me how I can possibly eat spinach every day. I either eat a spinach salad for lunch, in my taco salad for dinner (once a week – our family’s predictable that way!) or I add a cup of spinach to my breakfast smoothie. Sometimes that means I may get two servings of spinach each day. You can’t really taste it in the smoothies though your smoothie ends up with a pretty funky color. I’m a lettuce snob so even when I eat out at restaurants I make sure I only order salads with spinach or some other kind of leafy green.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods available to us. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, patients were treated for two years with antioxidants or placebos. After two years those who were treated with antioxidants had a significantly lower depression score. They are like DNA repairmen. They go around fixing your cells and preventing them from getting cancer and other illnesses.
Every day, I either add fresh blueberries to my morning oatmeal or I add about a cup of frozen blueberries to a smoothie. Yes, I have a smoothie almost every day if you haven’t noticed the pattern. This smoothie typically has frozen blueberries, spinach, cacao powder and maca powder. You can read more about maca in my post, Maca Root – Nature’s Powerhouse. That post also has one of my favorite smoothie recipes involving all the above-mentioned ingredients.
Cacao Powder or Cacao Nibs
Now you may be wondering exactly how this is “food”? Well – it is ingested, right? Cacao is powerful for so many reasons.
The benefits of cacao are truly fantastic: it can improve your memory, increase your bliss, reduce heart disease, shed fat, boost immunity, and create loads of energy.
The Incas considered it the drink of gods, an association that gave rise to the scientific name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink).
It may surprise you to discover that raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate, 20 times more than blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas
One of cacao’s most powerful nutrients is magnesium.
Low levels of magnesium are connected with an increased risk of depression overall, to the extent that those who have the lowest amount of magnesium in their system are around 20% more likely to suffer from the condition.
In addition, cacao has the mood improver, anandamide – known as the bliss molecule, which creates a feeling of euphoria.
As mentioned above, I add a tablespoon of raw cacao powder to almost every smoothie I make. If I have oatmeal for breakfast, I add cacao nibs along with my blueberries. This may not sound very good to you but I typically don’t eat food because it tastes good. I eat it to make sure my mood stays “hopeful,” what I consider the opposite of “depression.” My oatmeal does not taste bad, it just doesn’t have a ton of great taste, if that makes sense :-). I prefer Navitas brand cacao nibs and powder due to its purity (plus it’s organic).