Depression can arise for many reasons, individual to each person. What is known for everyone is that certain chemical imbalances within your body can stop or dampen down, certain brain chemicals that positively affect moods. These chemical imbalances can be supported by diet and lifestyle, as well as with the support from medical professionals.
Here are my top tips for encouraging healthy and happy brain function:
Whole grains: These are rich in B vitamins, which are essential for the function of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). They are also low GI, which means they will keep your blood sugar level stable, avoiding dips and mood swings. Brown rice, Quinoa, Oats, Buckwheat and Barley are good options.
Omega 3: Research has shown that depressed people often lack a fatty acid known as EPA, found in omega 3 such as fish oil. In studies Omega 3 has been shown to positively affect serotonin levels (‘feel good’ neurotransmitter). Good sources are Salmon, Mackerel Walnuts, Linseeds and Chia seeds.
Avoid nervous system disruptors: Illicit drugs, some pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol and even caffeine in high amounts all have a massive effect on how your brain functions, contributing to imbalances in moods.
Get moving: Physical activity increases the levels of endorphins and other uplifting neurotransmitters within the body. Social engagement from exercising in a group or team also helps to positively effect mood.
Get some sunshine: Vitamin D acts on the areas of your brain that are linked to depression. In certain parts of the world that are susceptible to vitamin D deficiency, higher rates of deficiency have been linked to higher rates of depression. 15 minutes a day, with 80% of your body exposed is all you need to top up your levels.
Eat fresh: loading your daily diet with plenty of different coloured fresh fruit and vegetables fills your body with energy giving nutrients, giving you a natural high.