Lighten up: Foods That Fight Depression
We live in stressful times, and all that stress can lead to serious bouts of depression.
Typically, when we're depressed, we turn to quick fixes. A tub of ice cream, a candy bar or a box of chocolates. But these only give us a temporary, artificial high, and we feel even worse when the effects wear off.
Depression is thought to be a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Three chemicals in particular are affected, namely:
a) Serotonin (regulates emotions, sleep and appetite)
b) Noradrenaline (linked to arousal and alertness)
c) Dopamine (associated with pleasure and reward)
Some foods make you feel good because they trigger the release of serotonin, the "happy" neurotransmitter, in the brain. These foods contain an essential amino acid called tryptophan, a natural mood enhancer known to relieve depression. Tryptophan in turn stimulates the production of serotonin.
You'll find rich sources of tryptophan in vitamin B6, vitamin C, folic acid and zinc, which are available from meat, fish, beans and lentils. Other good sources of tryptophan are lean turkey and chicken, and carbohydrates.
The Bs Knees
One way to correct the brain's chemical imbalance is to make sure you're getting lots of B vitamins. Vitamin B1 and B6 are excellent sources of thiamin and folate respectively. Deficiencies in either of these can lead to depression. Thiamin boosts energy and concentration, while low folate levels can actually deepen depression. Vitamin B6 should always be taken with zinc, which helps the body convert it.