This year almost seems designed to test everyone’s sense of wellbeing. The pandemic, economic uncertainty, extreme weather conditions and other sources of stress have brought millions of people to their boiling point. In fact, a June 2020 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 31% of Americans are dealing with anxiety or depression, showing that general mental health is disproportionately declining.
Though much of our current situation is outside of our direct control, there are ways to deal with stressors and manage anxiety and depression in healthy ways. Proper exercise, uninterrupted sleep, mindfulness practices and nourishing diets can help people cultivate more resiliency. With that in mind, here are five super foods that can contribute to your wellbeing during these stressful times.
Studies show that oxidative stress, a side effect of living in an oxygen rich atmosphere, can cause damage to the nervous system and is linked to increased high-anxiety behavior. Though we can’t avoid exposure to this stress, we can downplay their effects by consuming antioxidant rich foods. Blueberries, as well as açai berries, contain plentiful amounts of antioxidant vitamins and polyphenols. Incorporating these fruits into your diet is a great way to complement any supplements for anxiety (plus, blueberries are among the top foods to eat for heart health).
2.) Wild Caught Fish
When it comes to seafood, there are some advantages to eating fish that grew up in the wild (our own practices as a seaweed company show the unique benefits wild and sustainable seaweed harvesting bring). For example, oily fish with high omega-3 content (salmon, sardines, tuna, etc.) have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as an ability to easily interact with mood-related molecules in the brain. In fact, a review of 26 studies, each evaluating the consumption of fish by people all over the world, found that depressive symptoms were lower in those who ate omega-3 rich seafood.
3.) Probiotic-Rich Food
The brain-gut connection is starting to receive wider recognition in the scientific community. Within the walls of your GI system is what’s called the enteric nervous system, which has a surprising impact on your overall mood. People who lack a healthy amount of gut microbes or struggle with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are more likely to suffer from higher anxiety or depression. Regularly consuming probiotic-rich food like kimchi, kombucha, tofu and yogurt helps to cultivate a more functional gut microbiome, giving your enteric nervous system what it needs to thrive.
4.) Dark Leafy Greens
If your parents always told you while growing up to eat your greens, they were right! Leafy green plants like spinach, kale and collards contain a high amount of folate per serving. Why does that matter? Some evidence suggests that people with diets that are rich in folate are better at breaking down the amino acid homocysteine within their bodies. A buildup of this amino acid has resulted in higher cases of depression and Alzheimer’s disease, justifying plentiful inclusion of greens in every diet.
The more research is done, the more scientists and nutritionists are identifying exciting health benefits of seaweed. The prebiotics contained within brown seaweed like Ascophyllum nodosum contribute to a healthy brain-gut connection, while an array of antioxidants (such as vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenoids, etc.) reduce the impact of oxidative stress. Combine that with the ample amounts of magnesium found in a serving size of seaweed, and people who consume this super food are better equipped to fight anxiety and depression.
Whether you are using a kelp dietary supplement or other seaweed products to boost your mood, it’s important that you pair this food with a rounded-out mental health strategy. Even finding the right food to fight depression and anxiety only goes so far if you are not taking healthy steps to boost your wellbeing and address the cause of your stress. Yet by eating seaweed and these other foods, you’ll find you’re in less of an uphill battle as you work toward greater stability, now and in the future.
Want to learn more about why seaweed might be the perfect food to fight depression? Check out our webinar for further information on these and seaweed’s other benefits.