The Cottages Blog

5 Foods That Help Fight Depression

Posted by Susan Abercrombie on Mar 20, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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It is estimated that 14.8 million American adults currently suffer from some form of depression. Because of their daily challenges, caregivers and seniors, particularly those who have been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s or dementia, are at risk of suffering from depression at some point in their lives. Find out if your symptoms might be depression. While depression is a very serious condition that requires treatment and therapy, there are some “super” depression-fighting foods that you can incorporate into your diet that will help keep your body and mind balanced.

1. Green Tea

Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanin, which is thought to have depression-fighting properties. This amino acid is found naturally in tea leaves. L-theanine naturally relaxes the body and reduces tension without making you sleepy, thus lessening the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Find different types of green teas that you can make.

2. Dark Chocolate

Eating dark chocolate increases endorphin levels in the brain and causes the body to release more serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, one of the body’s natural chemicals, that affects our moods, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, and memory. Medications that are used to treat depression are designed to increase the body’s serotonin levels. Learn how to make your own dark chocolate!

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that is found in curry dishes. In many Asian countries, turmeric is used as a treatment for several different ailments. It contains the substance circumin, which has been shown to reverse depressive behavior in mice. Turmeric is also used as a natural anti-inflammatory; it is sometimes used as a treatment for inflammation from arthritis. Find the perfect turmeric recipe.

4. Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)

We have all heard that turkey contains high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body to produce serotonin, but did you know that just one serving of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) contains nearly three times the amount of tryptophan that one serving of turkey has? The connection between tryptophan and sleep is due to the fact that high levels of serotonin in your system can relax your body to the point of sleepiness. Roast your own pumpkin seeds several different ways.

5. Whole Grains

Whole grains, like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley, are known as complex carbohydrates. Our bodies process complex carbs much more slowly than simple sugars, like fructose. As a result, we get more nutrients out of foods that contain complex carbs. It is thought that consuming complex carbs helps our bodies to produce more serotonin. Also, eating complex carbs along with foods that are high in tryptophan helps our bodies to absorb the tryptophan more slowly and more effectively. Make something delicious using whole grains tonight!

 

Caregiver's Field Guide to Assisted Living

Topics: Senior Health Care, Advice for Caregivers

Susan Abercrombie

Written by: Susan Abercrombie

Susan has 32 years of nursing experience caring for seniors in assisted living and doctors’ offices. She now manages two Cottage communities in Alabama. Susan and her husband of 30 years, Tim, have two dogs, Sydney and Macy.