Helpful Hints to Beat the Blues
Ever go through periods of feeling like you’re carrying a heavy burden? Like nothing’s going your way? Start to feel like you know why the color blue is so sad? We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s easy to put a finger on why we’re feeling blue – like a rocky relationship, financial trouble, or some unexpected crisis comes out of left field and leaves us feeling chewed up and spit out. But when it’s more than just a few days here and there, and you’re not sure why you’re feeling so low all the time, there could be something more serious going on, like depression.
Did you know? Depression affects an estimated 17.5 million adults in the United States, according to the Washington University School of Medicine.
For about half the folks who suffer from depression, working with a doctor and therapist is essential to treat clinical depression. Prescription medication and strategies used in counseling can help lift the cloud of depression that can hover over every aspect of life like a cloud of evil Dementors.
For the other half of the population, some changes to diet, exercise and lifestyle can make a world of difference.
Give Your Menu a Makeover
You may not even realize it, but the “comfort food” you’re eating when you’re feeling low could be a big part of the reason you’re feeling depressed.
In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that the average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 2.7 pounds of salt, 24 pounds of ice cream, and 11 pounds of chocolate and chugs 53 gallons of soda a year. Researchers also found that 44 percent of people eat fast food more than once a week. Just say no...
That’s not only a recipe for weight gain and ill health, it’s also a big problem for your brain. In fact, researchers found that people who eat even a little fast food are 51 percent more likely to develop depression than people who don’t, according to a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.
“When you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates found in fast food and processed foods, it creates a blood sugar roller coaster in your body and depletes serotonin levels,” says certified nutritionist and health educator Lorie Gehrke. “Deficiencies in serotonin can cause depression, food cravings and eating disorders, pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, panic attacks and hormonal imbalances.”
Too much alcohol (no more than one drink per day for women! And if you’re dealing with a serious case of the saddies you may want to totally eliminate booze), foods high in saturated fats, and caffeine can also cause depression-related symptoms like insomnia, nervousness, jumpiness, lack of clear thinking, and mood swings.
If your diet is based on convenience foods, your brain likely isn’t getting the kind of “happy” nutrients it needs for optimal mood. You’ll feel happier inside and out when you feed your brain by following these tips...
1. Eating small, high-protein meals throughout the day.
Eggs, dark-meat turkey, and wild-caught salmon are good options. Amino acids in protein-rich foods help produce the chemicals your brain needs for optimal balance. Supplements like dopamine, serotonin (5HTP), and GABA can help improve your mood, prevent whacky food cravings and improve your sleep patterns.
Check with your doctor before incorporating neurotransmitters into your routine, especially if you're already on medication.
2. Making sure to get your omega 3s.
We call these “mood food” for good reason – and not only do omega 3s support overall brain health but are especially important for managing inflammation, which is considered a player in depression. Omega 3s are also important for memory, heart health and beautiful skin. Since our bodies don’t make these special fats, we must get them in our diets.
Try wild caught cold-water fish (especially salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, cod & halibut), eggs (pastured and organic if possible), grass-fed beef, flaxseed, spirulina, hemp seed, chia seed, pumpkin seed.
And if you’re not getting a variety of the above foods multiple times per week, (most people don’t) OmegAvail Marine is a great option for most folks.
Insider tip: TeamCambiati loves DFH's Twice Daily Packets because they combine your multivitamin, calcium, magnesium and an omega 3 all in one tidy little packet.
3. Loading up on leafy greens at every meal.
Spinach, kale, cabbage, and romaine lettuce work well in salads. Try this spicy broccoli rabe or throw whatever’s in your fridge into a stir fry. Make a trusty green smoothie or bake some kale chips coated in a little olive oil. These nutrient-dense foods contain essential vitamins and minerals your brain needs to be happy. When in doubt… always go green!!
4. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Take a look at just about any fast food menu, and you’ll notice most of the options don’t include much in the way of fruits and vegetables. But your brain and body need the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. That’s why health experts recommend half your plate at every meal should be loaded with fruits and vegetables. And of course, when time is tight - reach for your Reds and Greens!
5. Enjoying a little dark chocolate.
Key word? Dark. The milk chocolate found in most candy bars and ice creams contains a lot of sugar, saturated fat, and added calories. But 1 ounce of dark chocolate per day can help raise serotonin levels and improve your mood. We recommend looking for high quality chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher.
6. Getting regular exercise.
You’ve heard the advice before. Aim to exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day. It’s a no-brainer as part of your plan to maintain a healthy weight or shed a few more pounds, but regular exercise is also an effective way to prevent and treat depression, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In the study, researchers looked at 25 different studies on physical activity and depression. And they found that even low levels of exercise like walking 30 minutes a day or even gardening, helped people beat the blues. Plus, getting some fresh air and a bit of sunshine is pretty much always a good idea.
7. Drinking more water.
Did you know? Your brain is made up of about 75 percent water. It’s an essential nutrient required for brain function, and the amount you drink has a direct impact on your mood, according to studies published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers found that even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on your mood. Aim to drink an estimated eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, or about two liters.
8. Taking a daily multivitamin.
Without that perfect diet that’s nearly impossible to follow, we miss out on some of the essential vitamins, and nutrients the brain needs for us to feel happy-go-lucky. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, and zinc, can all contribute to depression and issues with brain health. Eating a healthy diet and taking a daily multivitamin can help you feed your brain the right ingredients to help you feel better about getting out of bed. There are tons of multivitamin options on our online store, so let us know if you need some help in choosing the best one for you.
If you think you might be suffering from depression, check in with your doctor about the right steps to take together.