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Let Food be Thy Medicine - Anxiety/ Depression

We all know food has the ability to transform our mood and make our taste buds cry tears of joy. A hot, fresh pizza can make even the hangriest human smile. While our favorite guilty pleasures can grant us instant gratification, have you ever stopped to think how food is really affecting your body? Many of us don’t think to change our diet when we start feeling emotional or anxious. You may not realize how your mental health is being affected by the foods you eat. Not only does an unhealthy diet have negative impacts on our health, but balanced, nutritious food truly has the power to be our medicine.

The Problem

Food affects your mood far beyond the instant gratification as soon as that donut hits our lips. What you eat can have a major impact on how you feel mentally and emotionally day to day. Gut bacteria dysregulation and a high sugar diet can seriously harm our mental health.

Our gut and brain are created from the same tissue – you could say we technically have two brains (weird right?). High sugar intake can cause an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in the gut. Research has shown a link between our gut flora and brain health, so you may want to think twice about smashing that entire bag of Halloween candy. Sugar has been shown to reduce the activity of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Low levels of BDNF have been shown to lead to depression and schizophrenia.

The Solution

So what should we be eating to keep out of that funk? Eat more probiotic foods, high fiber and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, naturally high sources of tryptophan, and choose natural vs added sugars.

Foods to Improve Your Mood

Protein – Helps regulate blood glucose (sugar) and reduce the risk for leptin and insulin resistance. Also helps to keep you feeling full throughout the day, fighting off hangry mood swings.

Bananas – Dopamine, a chemical that directly boosts mood, works alongside the B vitamins in bananas to soothe the nervous system.

Snack Box – almonds (omega 3 fats to promote brain development), cranberries (help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and brain aging through antioxidant properties), cheddar cheese (protein supports blood sugar regulation), chicken sausage (tryptophan, a natural mood booster)

Citrus Salmon – Salmon (omega 3 fats to reduce inflammation throughout the body, gut and brain), lemon (scent of lemon has mood enhancing and energizing properties), asparagus (fiber to promote gut health)

Greek Yogo – blueberries (antioxidants to prevent aging and reduce inflammation throughout the body), Greek yogurt (protein to reduce hunger, phosphorus (helps increase B vitamin absorption and prevent mood swings)


Kimberly Lacy

Corporate Wellness & Education

Kansas City Region

C: 402.210.1229


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