Carbohydrates are a formidable weapon against depression. Carbohydrates are connected to serotonin, a mood enhancing chemical in the brain. As in any war, decisions should be made wisely. Fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains are good choices; however, sugar should be very limited.
Vegans should be particularly conscious of protein consumption. Healthy proteins such as fava beans, almonds, chick peas, lima beans and soy products are also necessary. These foods contain an amino acid, known as tyrosine. Consuming tyrosine triggers a release of dopamine in the body. Dark chocolate contains phenylalanine, which is linked to increased activity and has been found to temporarily relieve depression in some patients. Too much dark chocolate can harm the liver and an over consumption of almonds can be the culprit of headaches. Both almonds and dark chocolate should be consumed in small quantities due to the high caloric content.
The brain is at risk for free radical damage. Foods rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E contain anti-oxidants, which are strong opponents against free radicals. Broccoli, carrots, collards, spinach and sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene. Blueberries, broccoli, peppers, strawberries and tomatoes contain vitamin C. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds and wheat germ. Apples contain quercetin a mighty warring anti-oxidant.
Folate and B vitamins are important for mental health. Fruits, legumes, dark leafy green vegetables and nuts are to the body what a sword is to a knight. These foods are high in folate. A vegan diet should contain a good variety of foods such as rice, beans, bananas, avocados, peanuts, citrus fruits and some mushrooms that are high in B vitamins, excluding B-12. B-12 is required for cell division and blood formation, which affect the brain. B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia and nerve damage. Nutritional yeast is a good vegan source for B-12. Some cereal products are fortified with B-12.
Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains are rich in selenium, which is also necessary to stabilize moods. Be careful when supplementing the diet with selenium in pharmaceutical form, as it is possible to overdose on selenium. A deficit of ometa-3 fatty acids have also be shown to contribute to depression. Flax seed and nuts are a good source for omega-3 fatty acids. Seasonal affective disorder is associated with low levels of vitamin D. Sunlight, torula yeast, fortified rice milk and fortified cereal products are all good sources of vitamin D.
A well-rounded diet can slay a multitude of health issues. Depression is a real health issue. Be sure to discuss your diet with a counselor, psychologist or nutritionist when battling depression. To battle the formidable opponent, depression use all of the weapons at your disposal.
Royalty-free photo courtesy of 123rf.com.