Have you ever experienced anxiety or depression? I know I certainly have.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), at least 30% of Americans have reported feeling anxious or depressed in their lifetime…how many didn’t report? The NIMH also reports that currently, at least 18% of us are experiencing anxiety regularly and half of these also are experiencing depression.
Worldwide, in 2017, 284 million people suffered from anxiety disorders…the most prevalent mental disorder in the world!
Lots of things can trigger anxiety: we can all think of work, family, school, and social pressure, but then there are also events happening in the world which we often think of as happening to “other” people…not us…that can trigger anxiety without us even realizing it: war, gun violence, hate crimes, just to name a few.
We may not be able to make a difference in some of these arenas unless we are willing to become social activists, but there is another very interesting area of our lives that #1 potentially causes mental disorders and #2 addressing this area could cause significant improvements in our mental health.
This area is our lifestyle. Sleeping more, exercising regularly, getting outside in nature, and drinking more water are all habits that have been proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. We will address all of these in future blogs!
Today, I want to talk about 8 plants you can eat that will help you ward off the effects of anxiety and depression.
First, let’s understand that scientists have discovered multiple nutrients that they believe help fight mental disorders including antioxidants, omega fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, and selenium.
We’re going to talk about these but in general, I could write you a prescription that said “eat more plants” and you would be set…if you followed my advice.
Antioxidants are found abundantly in fruits, veggies and berries so eating a diet rich in these is a sure defense against anxiety and depression.
Specifically, dark, leafy greens and fruits and veggies with bright colors (think beets, carrots, pumpkins, blueberries…) carry high levels of antioxidants. We recommend getting kale, spinach, beets, and broccoli into your diet as often as possible. Eating leafy greens every day is a fantastic idea as is the consumption of berries.
If you’ve read our recent blog post on berries, you know all the benefits that berries confer. If you haven’t read it, you can access it here!
Omega fatty acids help to protect our brains from inflammation, which can disrupt normal nerve signaling. We recommend going right to the source: plants (!) and avoid the stinky fish-burps. Here’s the plant-based omega blend that Jake and I recommend. Veggies that contain ample amounts of omegas are any dark, leafy green, algae and avocadoes! Yum!
Apples and cherries can also aid in the disruption of anxiety and depression due to their high antioxidant levels and their boron content. Boron is a mineral that helps us to relax and can even aid in promoting better sleep.
Foods high in magnesium can be beneficial for reducing anxiety as this mineral has been found to improve brain functioning by regulating neurotransmitters that send messages throughout the brain and body. Additionally, magnesium is believed to affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate the pituitary and adrenal glands, which are responsible for our response to stress.
Foods high in magnesium include…you guessed it: dark, leafy greens, avocados, seeds, nuts AND dark chocolate!
Just to reiterate, these 8 fruits and veggies will give you the best leg up on reducing anxiety and depression:
- Dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Pumpkin, including seeds
- Antioxidant rich blueberries
Challenge yourself to get as many of these into your diet AND, if you find it difficult to do so, we recommend the plant concentrate that we have been using for 25 years. It contains ALL the fruits and veggies listed above plus 33 more! More info here!