Combating Anxiety & Depression Naturally with Nutrition

Posted by Jamie Tutson on

Every since the birth of my first daughter I have struggled with anxiety.  I  have tried several remedies to combat my anxiety issues.  While there isn’t anything wrong with prescription drug use, I couldn’t tolerate the side effects associated with several of the medications.  So I have been looking for a while for ways to combat my anxiety and depression naturally.

So we have all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but I don’t think any of us know how true this statement really is.  Did you know that our diet can significantly impact our mood? I mean, it can completely help alter it.  There are actually foods that can decrease anxiety and depression and we’re going to talk about which ones and how.


I, personally, hate water.  How can someone hate water? I don’t know, but I do.  It is so hard for me to make myself drink water, but I am working every day to increase my consumption.  Dehydration and fatigue go hand in hand. I don’t mean, you’re in the desert without a water source dehydration.  Dehydration is simply your body not having the adequate amount of hydration that it needs to function optimally.  Water has so many benefits.  It boosts our energy, relieves constipation, improves digestion, promotes weight loss, improves our complexion and even boosts our immune system.

So, how much water are you supposed to be consuming daily? Take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.  That is how many ounces you should be consuming per day.  So say you weight 160 lbs, ideally you should be consuming 80 oz of water per day.  How much water do you drink daily?


Many women consume green tea for its diuretic effect in hope of promoting weight loss, but did you know that it is also a natural way to decrease stress and anxiety? Green tea is a natural way to increase L-theanine.  L-theanine is an amino acid that is known for its natural stress reduction effects and anxiety reducing properties.  It is frequently included in other mood enhancer supplements.  One study even suggests that it is as effective as the anti-anxiety medication, Xanax.  Definitely sounds like this is something we need to begin including in our diet!


Green, leafy vegetables contain folic acid.  As mothers, most of us are familiar with this because we are told we need to increase it when we are pregnant to prevent neural tube defects.  But did you know that folic acid deficiency has been linked to depression? Me neither! So it’s important to add 1 to 2 servings of leafy greens to our diet every day.  These could include spinach, kale, romaine, collards or chard.


Salmon is a very nutrient rich fish that has a mild flavor.  It also is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which provide us with DHA and EPA.  DHA is recommended when pregnant and breastfeeding because it promotes adequate brain development in infants, but it is also beneficial for the mother.  Research has shown that DHA may help reduce depressive symptoms and may show promise as an alternative treatment for depression.  Sound like we’ll be having salmon for dinner tonight!


Who doesn’t love chocolate?  As if we needed another reason to eat it!  Dark chocolate may increase serotonin levels not only due to the serotonin and L-tryptophan that it contains, but also because it contains carbohydrates in the form of sugar.  These carbs can naturally signal the body to make more serotonin, thereby improving your mood.  So when you find yourself craving some sugar, treat yourself to some dark chocolate.


I know we’re learning many new words today, but I have another one to throw in to the mix: tyrosine.  This is another amino acid that can help in our struggle with depression and anxiety.  It is a precursor to dopamine and the thyroid hormones.  Maintaining adequate levels helps keep hormonal balance, thereby helping us maintain a more stable mood.  Almonds just so happen to be very rich in tyrosine.  Not to mention they reduce hunger and promote weight loss.  They’re also high in protein and magnesium.  It truly is a super food!


Pineapple is the perfect food to add to our diet this summer.  Pineapple is a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is used by the body to produce serotonin.  As previously mentioned, serotonin helps improve our mood.  Pineapple also decreases our risk of hypertension, promotes weight loss and improves our immune system.


Most of us have probably heard about how rich blueberries are in antioxidants, but they also provide several other benefits.  Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanidins, which are known to boost brain function and enhance our mood.  Not only do they play a role in regulating our mood, but they also lower our risk of heart disease, enhance our immune system and improve our vision.


I truly believe that our overall health is determined by our digestive system.  A new study is adding to this with the belief that bacteria affect behavior.  It is believed that adding good bacteria to our gut via probiotics could improve depression.  Probiotic rich foods that we are familiar with include buttermilk, yogurt, aged cheeses and apple cider vinegar. Others include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled beets, miso and kombucha. Of course, you can purchase a probiotic in the form of a tablet, but we are discussing natural sources today.


Last, but definitely not least, is vitamin D.  Of course there are tons of vitamin D rich foods and supplements, but our biggest, most available source comes from the sun.  Not spending time outside decreases our vitamin D exposure.  I am simply not myself in the winter months. I absolutely love being outside and my mood is definitely affected when I can’t spend time outdoors.  I challenge you to spend more time outside and I guarantee you’ll be a happier person because of it.

I will be sending out an accompanying menu list. Within this list, I challenge you to include 3 of these foods in your diet daily, including drinking the adequate amount of water for your body.  Let’s combat anxiety and depression and improve our overall health together!

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