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My Top Five Foods/Nutrients/Herbs to Lift Depression AND Prevent Cognitive Decline

Vitamin D rich foods!  Ideally, we want to get as much Vitamin D as we can from the sun.  However, if you work inside most of the day or live in an area where sunshine is limited, be sure to eat foods rich in Vitamin D like fatty fish, portabella mushrooms, and egg yolks!  Egg yolks are also an excellent source of choline, which is a precursor to acetylcholine. Acetylcholine travels between nerve cells, creating and calling up memories. You may need to supplement with Vitamin D.  Check your vitamin D levels at least once a year.

Eat foods rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids.  Foods rich in the Omega 3s include your fatty fish like salmon and sardines, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.  If you are not a big fan of fish, do not eat it regularly, or may not be able to access wild caught fish, then take a good quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement.  Although you can get Omega 3s from flaxseeds and chia seeds and other plant sources, animal sources like fish provide beneficial EPA and DHA directly. The plant sources have to be converted to EPA and DHA, and many people lack the enzymes to make this conversion efficiently.  My favorite fish oil product contains a ratio of EPA and DHA pretty close to 1:1 – EPA to decrease inflammation, DHA to support brain cell membranes.

 

Have you heard of saffron?  What a wonderful spice!  It is widely used in Spanish and Middle Eastern cuisine. (It’s what gives paella its famous yellow-orangcolor.) Traditional Persian and Ayurvedic medicine have long used saffron as a natural mood booster, and preliminary research shows it may also help assist with memory!

 

Eat foods rich in zinc! Low zinc is associated with depression. Zinc is an important co-factor in converting 5-HTP to serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter that promotes ease and contentment. Zinc is also a crucial co-factor in converting L-Dopa to dopamine, your neurotransmitter that promotes drive and desire. Zinc deficiency may result in the destruction of nerve cells and the formation of plaque tangles found in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Depleted zinc levels are all too common in Americans. Zinc is also important for immune health, sexual health, and blood sugar regulation.  Zinc deficiency results in loss of taste and smell. Oysters, beef, lamb, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of zinc!!  I highly recommend having your zinc plasma levels tested. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may need to supplement with zinc.

 

Green tea is rich in EGCg, short for epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the primary active ingredient responsible for green tea’s health-promoting effects. EGCg may support brain and central nervous system health by limiting oxidative stress. Green tea is also rich in the amino acid theanine, clinically proven to reduce stress and improve quality of sleep.

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