How’s your mood lately? Getting frequent bouts of anger, depression, anxiety and/or frustration? Welcome to 2020! I think most would agree that the challenges we have faced in 2020 have really taken a toll on our mental health. Several recently published journal articles outline the impact this pandemic is having on global mental health. And this election year has definitely not eased this burden as an American Psychological Association study done back in 2019 noted that Americans stated the current political client was #3 on the current list of stressors behind mass shootings and health care (this was even before THE VIRUS). One of the worst aspects of all of the challenges of 2020 is that we feel we have no control over any of these events or their outcomes. But the good news is that you are in control of how you react to these events and food can be one of your best tools! Keep reading to discover which foods can help improve your mood.
An article in the World Journey Of Psychiatry in 2018 did a systemic review of the nutrients and subsequent foods that had a significant impact on mental health. Twelve nutrients came up with the highest clinical scores to support prevention and recovery from depression. These nutrients were:
Of the nutrients listed above, some are exclusive to animal foods or are more absorbable when coming from animals such as iron, zinc, B12 and omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, some studies have shown that depression and anxiety are more prevalent in vegetarians, especially among male vegetarians. However there are conflicting studies. The best approach? Have 3/4 of your plate be plants and dedicate 1/4 to healthy animal foods. The highest rated animal foods in respect to mental health are organ meats (kidney, liver), and shellfish such as oysters, clams and mussels. The full list is available in the article. The top rated plant foods are listed in order below (you will see that leafy greens rank very high across the board):
How can you incorporate these foods? You can sneak liver into lots of recipes like these meatballs from the Paleo Mom. Pretty much any green is so easy to sauté like in this recipe. You can also incorporate greens into smoothie bowls which are much more filling to me than just a regular smoothie. Most of these smoothie bowls call for multiple bananas but I find that using a good quality protein powder cuts down on the need for the banana. Share your favorite recipe below!