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What Everyone Needs to Know About Depression

    Nothing works right when you’re depressed. You don’t do your job well, your relationships don’t work right, and even isolating yourself sometimes doesn’t bring any relief because you are your own worst company. If whatever you are doing to manage your depression isn’t working…in other words…if you are taking an antidepressant and you’re still depressed, there may be something about your lifestyle that is perpetuating the problem. LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT CAN HELP There are many lifestyle changes you can make that will greatly reduce or sometimes even eliminate depression and anxiety. Some of these things include exercise, stress management, prayer, sunshine, meditation, yoga, surrounding yourself with more positive people, developing more positive thoughts, practicing gratitude, dancing, and eating a healthy diet. There are many popular internet resources as well as bookshelves lined with self-help books on most of these topics. The focus at MENTALHEALTHFOOD.NET is on diet because much less information is readily available about the food-mood connection, even though there is a growing body of scientific research supporting the fact that what we eat directly affects how we think and feel. GOOD FOOD = GOOD MOOD Our bodies are designed to utilize nutrients from food to be strong and healthy. The body converts nutrients into many things including energy, muscles, hormones, and neurotransmitters – chemicals needed by the brain that regulate our moods, give us mental acuity, and even help us sleep soundly. When we deprive our bodies of these necessary nutrients, everything goes haywire. Nutritional deficiency leads to weak immune systems and malfunctions in every area of the body, including the brain. Without the nutrients it needs to be healthy, the body falls into a state of disrepair. We manifest symptoms of nutritional deficiency as sickness and disease, including anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, modern medicine spends billions of dollars every year looking for “cures” without looking for the “cause”. Many of our health and mental health problems are a result of inadequate nutrition. Food is the original medicine! HOW CAN WE HAVE NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCY IN A “LAND OF PLENTY”? Our traditional “Western diet” barely resembles what it looked like 50 years ago. Family farms have been replaced by corporate agriculture. Soil has been stripped of many of its naturally occurring nutrients, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria, and replaced with toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. This produces crops that grow bigger faster but lack the vitamins and minerals of their ancestors grown in nutrient-rich organic soil. People stopped cooking and eating homemade meals at home as TV dinners made it easier for both parents to be wage...

STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

This delectable side dish may easily be mistaken for dessert! Stuffed with apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon, maple syrup and topped with pecans, this dish is not only delicious but is also high in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6 – making this a good anti-anxiety and anti-depression food!

WHAT IS GABA AND WHY DO I NEED IT?

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is one of the body’s most calming neurotransmitters and plays a powerful role in anxiety and depression. Like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, GABA is not directly available in food. But the amino acid, glutamine, is present in food and converts to GABA. GABA is available as a supplement but most medical professionals do not believe it can cross the blood-brain barrier to enter the brain. However, there are many people who take GABA as a supplement and report that it relieves their anxiety. It is possible that due to malnutrition or inflammation the blood-brain barrier could weaken, allowing a substance to cross. Glutamine is an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and can convert to GABA in the brain. Glutamine is found in many different foods. Low levels of GABA are associated with: Anxiety Irritability Fatigue Panic attacks Insomnia Restlessness Low stress tolerance Feelings of dread Short temper There is no established daily recommendation for glutamine. The body can make its own glutamine but it is diminished under stressful conditions, including mental stress or physical stress like intensive exercise. Because of this, sometimes the body is not able to keep up with glutamine production making it a “conditionally essential” amino acid, so it becomes “essential” during these times to obtain glutamine from the diet. Supplementation of 10 grams per day has been found to be safe. An individual’s actual needs are difficult to determine because it will depend on stress levels, physical exertion, or mental or physical trauma, all of which can cause a deficiency in glutamine. While it is not recommended for people with neurological disorders to take supplements containing glutamine, consumption of glutamine from food sources is not known to cause any harmful effects and in a whole foods organic diet, you will be supplying all the building blocks needed for the body to produce its own needed glutamine. Foods high in glutamine are: Grass-fed beef Bison Free range chicken Free range eggs Whey protein Red cabbage Beets Beans Ensuring that your glutamine levels are adequate will help your brain make the GABA it needs to prevent or correct the anxiety and depression that can result from low levels of GABA. Eating good quality protein several times a day should provide you with adequate glutamine for GABA...