5 Foods That Helped Me Fight Depression Naturally

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I spent a good part of my teenage years and early 20s battling depression. It led me into a downward spiral where I felt hopeless, sad, and uninterested. I felt completely horrible about myself and the world around me. Eventually, I found myself at “rock bottom.” This is when I set out on a determined journey to clean up my mind, body, and soul.

I decided that my first stop would be with the food I was putting in my body. Up until this time, I had been eating a highly processed food diet. When I started to incorporate real food, my entire world started to change.

I was more energetic, creative, and inspired. I was also a better person to myself and everybody around me. At this point, a lightbulb went off and I really started to connect the dots. The food I was putting in my body was having a massive impact on my mental health!

So I did some research and discovered scientific evidence that confirmed it was true: what we eat can either positively or negatively affect our mental health.

I learned that indeed, processed food has the power to create inflammation throughout our bodies and can contribute to chemical imbalances in our brains.

The good news is, there are foods out there that can help fight symptoms of depression. These foods are reparative, can help keep us balanced, and fulfill all our weird and wonderful nutritional needs.

Let's talk about five of these healing foods that have the power to fight symptoms of depression and how they work:

1. Sweet Potato

photo credit: Abigail Keeso

My beloved sweet potato! It's more than just a delicious vegetable, it's also super rich in vitamin B6. Low levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with symptoms of depression, so it's essential we get our fix of this nutrient.

Try This: Sweet Potato Bowl

2. Spinach

photo credit: Abigail Keeso

Spinach is my favorite super food. So much goodness is packed into this leafy green, including tryptophan and folate.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy. The tryptophan found in spinach helps increase our levels of serotonin so we can start to feel better. Spinach is also high in folate, another nutrient that helps increase levels of serotonin in the brain.

Try This: Super Simple Spinach Soup

3. Cashews

photo credit: Abigail Keeso

As if you needed another excuse to eat cashews. In the documentary Food Matters, Dr. Andrew Saul explains that eating two handfuls of cashews is equivalent to taking a prescription dose of the popular antidepressant Prozac.

Cashews are also super high in tryptophan, which, again, helps increase levels of that happiness-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Try This: Creamy Cashew Pasta Salad

4. Berries

photo credit: Abigail Keeso

The daily grind often leaves our bodies worn down and inflamed. High levels of inflammation in the body have been linked to symptoms of depression. Berries contain high amounts of polyphenols, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, to help our bodies recover.

Try This: Chia-Berry Parfait With Gluten-Free Granola

5. Avocados

photo credit: Abigail Keeso

Last but not least, another favorite: avocado. Avocado is a serious superfood when it comes to depression as it contains tryptophan, folate, and omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps combat inflammation in the brain and regulate the brain's neurotransmitters.

Try This: Tomato + Avocado Caprese

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