During the month of September, we’re focusing on how the health of our physical bodies relates to the health of our minds. When we see people who are suffering from brain fog, anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, and inability to focus, we explain that what we at Lotus of Life Chiropractic is never aimed directly at “treating” any sort of mental malaise.  In most cases, though, handling the health of the nervous system as well as the state of each participant’s diet leads directly to improved mental health!

Why is that? As we’ve discovered more about our bodies’ microbiomes, we can clearly see how diet controls the health and diversity of our guts. This is key, because it turns out happiness-linked hormones like serotonin and oxytocin are produced in our guts, not our brains. A healthy microbiome enables normal hormone production and an ailing one does the exact opposite. A poor diet leads to chronic inflammation all over the body, and inflammation has been linked to depression. Consumption of sugar plays a big role in the development of depression, anxiety, and memory issues.

It’s clear that a poor diet can lead to mental issues, so does that mean that a truly nourishing diet can prevent or correct them! In many cases, yes! So, what can you eat to feel your happiest? Here are a few suggestions:

SPICE IT UP: saffron, turmeric (curcumin is a great anti-inflammatory), peppermint (for attention), cinnamon (for attention, ADHD, irritability, improved glucose management).

FOODS FOR FOCUS & MOTIVATION: turmeric, green tea, lentils, fish, lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, nuts and seeds (pumpkin and sesame), high protein veggies (such as broccoli and spinach).

FOODS FOR MOOD, SLEEP, & CRAVING CONTROL: Combine tryptophan-containing foods, such as eggs, turkey, seafood, chickpeas, nuts and seeds (building blocks for serotonin), with healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and quinoa, to elicit a short-term insulin response that drives tryptophan into the brain. Dark chocolate also increases serotonin.  Look for chocolate that’s at least 72% cacao, organically grown, and fair trade.

ANTI-ANXIETY FOODS: broccoli, almonds, walnuts, lentils, bananas, beef liver, brown rice, halibut, gluten-free whole oats, oranges, spinach. pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, swiss chard, sesame seeds, beet greens, summer squash, quinoa, black beans, and cashews.

CHOLINE-RICH FOODS: shrimp, eggs, scallops, sardines, chicken, turkey, tuna, cod, beef, collard greens, Brussels sprouts.

MACA: this root vegetable/medicinal plant, native to Peru, has been shown to reduce depression. Learn more here.

OMEGA-3-RICH FOODS to support nerve cell membranes and serotonin. That’s fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines, walnuts, chia, hemp, and flax seeds.

ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS: acai fruit, parsley, cocoa powder, raspberries, walnuts, blueberries, artichokes, cranberries, kidney beans, blackberries, pomegranates, dark chocolate, olive, and hemp oil, dandelion greens and green tea.

ZINC-RICH FOODS: oysters, beef, lamb, spinach, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, asparagus, sesame and pumpkin seeds.

VITAMIN B6, B12, FOLATE-RICH FOODS: leafy greens, cabbage, bok choy, bell peppers, cauliflower, lentils, asparagus, garbanzo beans, spinach, broccoli, parsley, cauliflower, salmon, sardines, lamb, tuna, beef, and eggs.

PREBIOTIC-RICH FOODS: dandelion greens, asparagus, chia seeds, beans, cabbage, psyllium, artichokes, raw garlic, onions, leeks, root vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, squash, jicama, beets, carrots, turnips).

PROBIOTIC-RICH FOODS: brined vegetables (not vinegar), kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso soup, pickles, spirulina, chlorella, blue-green algae, kombucha tea, raw milk.

Eat these foods, drink teas, and be merry!