Foods That Fight Depression | The Epoch Times

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Animal foods offer abundant nutrients for fighting the blues.

Depression has become a medical crisis in the United States. Recent data from the National Institutes of Health indicates that more than 8 percent of all U.S. adults (an estimated twenty-one million people) have suffered at least one major depressive episode, with greater occurrence among females (10.3 percent) than males (6.2 percent). Most tragically, the rate is highest in young adults in the prime of life—ages eighteen to twenty-five (18.6 percent).
Not surprisingly, antidepressant use has skyrocketed in recent years—drugs like Prozac and Zoloft are taken by one in six Americans, more than a quarter of whom are long-term users, defined as taking the drug for a decade or more.

Nutrient-Dense Animal Foods–A Remedy for Depression?

Plenty of advice can be found on the Internet about using foods to combat depression, and most acknowledge that vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate, and zinc are nutrients low in those suffering from depression. The good news is that these are all nutrients we can get from animal foods.

Sources of B12 include liver, kidney, clams, sardines, beef, tuna, eggs, cheese, and milk. All animal foods provide B12, but the richest source is liver, which we all should include in our diets at least once a week. Liver is also a great source of folate and vitamin B6, other vitamins that can ward off depression. Liver had ten times more B6 than red meat!
The best sources of zinc are red meat, shellfish, and—again—liver. Some plant foods contain zinc but the mineral is often blocked by phytic acid and other anti-nutrients that occur in plant foods. Recent research findings show the benefit of zinc for treating depression and even psychotic episodes.
As for vitamin D, getting adequate exposure to the sun is important, but we only make vitamin D when the sunlight is directly overhead—that is at midday during the summer months. The rest of the year we need to get vitamin D from foods—that’s where the animal fats come in! Egg yolks and butter from pastured animals are excellent sources, as well as lard, shellfish, salmon, oily fish, and cod liver oil. Vitamin D needs vitamins A and K2 as co-factors, again found mostly in animal fats. And by the way, low vitamin-A intake is also associated with depression.
Animal fats not only provide the critical fat-soluble vitamins that help us feel good, but they also help keep blood sugar stable. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is associated with depression, and a diet lacking in plenty of fat is the fast track to hypoglycemia. That’s because fats modulate the release of glucose into the bloodstream. If you eat something sweet on an empty stomach—without any fats—within an hour or two your blood sugar will drop very low and you will definitely feel depressed. (Please don’t try this experiment!) But when you eat a good breakfast with protein and plenty of fats, your blood sugar will remain stable until the next meal. You will stay alert and able to concentrate without wanting to visit a vending machine.

Panaceas for Over-all Well-Being

In addition to stabilizing the blood sugar and providing fat-soluble vitamins, animal fats provide another nutrient that contributes to emotional well-being—arachidonic acid (AA). This is a long-chain omega-6 fatty acid that is vital for brain function—at least 10 percent of the brain is composed of AA.

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Most importantly, AA is the compound out of which our bodies make endocannabinoids—yes, our bodies naturally make chemicals similar to THC—the psychoactive compound of marijuana—and have receptors for this feel-good substance. (Some people can make small amounts of AA out of the omega-6 fatty acids that are in plants, but how much better to get it readymade from animal fats!) Our self-made cannabinoids help us feel relaxed and focused and do not have bad side effects. I like to say that the natural state of the body is to feel high all the time—but this won’t happen if we don’t eat plentiful animal fats.
Another important food for emotional well-being is gelatinous bone broth. The glycine in bone broth helps regulate dopamine levels. When we’re depressed, our dopamine tends to be low, so bone broth will help raise it to normal levels—there is real truth in the expression, “Chicken soup for the soul!” When dopamine levels are too high, you may feel anxious and hyper. In that case, the glycine in bone broth will relax you by bringing dopamine down to normal levels.

A Nod to Lacto-Fermented Foods

One more thing—we now know that a healthy gut biome produces feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and a chemical called GABA. So, we need to maintain these friendly bacteria with lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut.

Lift Depression With a ‘Wise Traditions’ Diet

You may have noticed by now that our anti-depression diet is the same as our Wise Traditions diet, every facet of which is supported by good science. Let’s see how this diet looks in practice.

Breakfast

The typical breakfast of cold cereal or pastry, with coffee and orange juice, is a recipe for mid-morning depression. The anti-depression breakfast contains animal protein and lots of good fats. Examples include:

  • Scrambled egg with extra yolk, bacon, or sausage, sourdough bread with plenty of butter.
  • Soaked oatmeal with lots of butter or cream, small amount of natural sweetener, cup of bone broth.
  • Cheese omelet cooked in butter.
  • Reheated leftovers containing meat and served with plenty of butter.

Lunch

The midday meal should include nutrient-dense foods like liverwurst or pate, cheese, or meat. Examples include:

  • Liverwurst or pate with butter and sourdough bread or crackers, piece of fruit, small bottle of kombucha.
  • Cheese, salami, or roast beef sandwich on sourdough bread with butter, vegetables with homemade sour cream dip, homemade cookie made with natural sweeteners and butter.
  • Soup made with homemade broth, sourdough toast with butter, piece of fruit.
  • Tuna or salmon salad made with a good quality mayonnaise on bed of lettuce, sourdough crackers with butter, spoonful of raw sauerkraut.

Dinner

  • Meat (chicken, beef, lamb, pork) with the skin or fat, and preferably with a sauce or gravy made with homemade bone broth, brown rice or potatoes with butter, steamed vegetables with butter, raw sauerkraut.
  • Hearty soup containing meat and grain or beans, such as beef-barley soup or chili, sourdough toast with butter or oven-baked tortilla chips brushed with lard or bacon fat, homemade ice cream.
  • Omelet and green salad with homemade dressing, sourdough bread with butter, spoonful of raw sauerkraut.

This diet will not only help lift depression but will give you more energy, and junk foods will tempt you less. If you are taking an anti-depressant, it will allow you to gradually reduce your dose (with the help of a professional, of course). It will enhance your ability to set goals and stick to achieving them—which is what truly confers happiness—all while eating foods that are delicious and satisfying.

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