Among all the strategies to safeguard my mental health, eating the right foods ties for first (with getting adequate sleep) as the most important. Recently I did some substantial research on which foods promote sanity and which ones send an alarm to your limbic system (emotion center) and cause inflammation. I decided to eliminate gluten, dairy, caffeine, and sugar from my diet. I also started eating fresh produce throughout my day and made the commitment to hit the grocery store a few times a week.
As a result, I feel more emotionally resilient and less vulnerable to the impact of stress and drama on my mood. Here are some of the foods I eat every day to feel good. They provide the nutrients my body needs to fight off inflammation in my brain, which leads to depression.
1. Dark Leafy Greens: A Nutrient-Dense Inflammation Fighter
If you were to choose the healthiest food of all, the most nutrient-dense item available to us to eat, it would be dark, leafy greens, no contest.
. Swiss chard. Greens are the first of the G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, seeds) that Joel Fuhrman, MD, describes in his book The End of Dieting — the foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anticancer effects.
“These foods help prevent the cancerous transformation of normal cells and keep the body armed and ready to attack any precancerous or cancerous cells that may arise,” he writes. Leafy greens fight against all kinds of inflammation, and according to a study published in March 2015 in JAMA Psychiatry, severe depression has been linked with brain inflammation. Leafy greens are especially important because they contain oodles of vitamins A, C, E, and K, minerals, and phytochemicals.
2. Walnuts: Rich in Mood-Boosting Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Walnuts are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce depression symptoms. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry is especially interesting. The lead authors ask the question, Why is the vast part biological research — from genetics to psychopharmacology — concentrated on neurotransmitters, when the mammalian brain is approximately 80 per cent fat (lipids), and there is a growing body of research demonstrating the critical role of lipids in brain functioning? What’s more, the shift in the Western diet away from these necessary omega-3 fatty acids over the last century parallels the large rise in psychiatric disorders during that time.