Did you know that you can use a healthy diet to create serotonin?
A lot of us think of “stress-eating” when we talk about foods in relation to stress and anxiety. Ever bought a treat to cheer you up? Well, the reason why we reach towards certain foods when we are stressed or anxious is to boost our “feel-good” brain neurotransmitters, mainly serotonin. Did you know that you can use a healthy diet to create neurotransmitters like serotonin? Or use ingredients that create a calming effect in the brain?
Here are Certain Vitamin-rich Foods to Look for:
B vitamins, especially Vitamin B6, are used in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin in the brain – making it usable for our cells. Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) is also thought to be implicated in mood regulation due to its involvement with homocysteine. Vitamin B12 reduces homocysteine levels which are thought to lead to poor moods.
Where to find B vitamins: Lean meats (Turkey, Beef, Chicken), Avocados, Nuts and seeds (Pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds), Fish (Tuna, Salmon), Beans, Nutritional Yeast, Eggs, Feta
2| Vitamin C
When we are undergoing stress, our body uses Vitamin C to produce norephinephrine and epinephrine (flight or fight hormones). Vitamin C gets quickly depleted in this physiological state, and therefore cannot be used for other reactions, one of them being serotonin production. If we are constantly producing the fight or flight hormones, then our adrenal glands become fatigued, and struggle to create any energy at all – which is another reason why Vitamin C is important.
Where to find Vitamin C: Red peppers, Kale, Broccoli, Kiwi, Brussel sprouts, Oranges (don’t overdo oranges as they are high in sugar)
Magnesium is an important mineral for nerve function and neurotransmitter release in the brain. It activates the calm, or parasympathetic response in the brain – therefore is helpful for anxiety. There is even research for magnesium in treatment-resistant depression.
Where to find magnesium: Spinach, Chard, Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Black beans, Cocoa powder, Figs, Avocados
4| Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into all cell membranes of the body, including that of the brain. It allows for brain signaling to occur easier than if omega-6 fatty acids (from processed foods and animal products) were in the cell membranes. Therefore, by improving overall brain function, cognition (thinking/decision making) and mood are improved.
Where to find omega-3 fatty acids: Fish (Salmon, Sardines, Tuna), Flaxseed, Chia seeds, Walnuts
Did you find this article informative and would like to learn more?
Grab a copy of my Ebook Eating Peacefully for 10 plant-based recipes for stress and anxiety here: https://www.drkaitlynzornnd.com/eating-peacefully-ebook/
If you are looking for personalized ways to regulate your stress and anxiety, book either a 15-minute meet & greet or initial consult here: https://www.drkaitlynzornnd.com/contact/
Dr. Kaitlyn Zorn, HBSc., ND., is a Registered Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Guelph, Ontario, at Healing Foundations Naturopathic Clinic. Kaitlyn considers herself a general family practitioner, seeing a variety of concerns, however, has a keen interest in mental health (stress, anxiety & depression), hormonal imbalances (women’s health, adrenal & thyroid conditions) and digestive concerns (food sensitivities, bloating, indigestion). She can work with you to reduce your stress, balance hormones and improve digestion alongside providing a treatment plan that is individualized for your unique concern. Most importantly, Kaitlyn helps to empower you to be your best self so you can live your life to the fullest. Did you know that most extended coverage plans offer some coverage for naturopathic services? Look into yours today and book either a complimentary 15-minute Meet & Greet or an Initial Consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay in the loop with Kaitlyn by following her on Instagram: @drkaitlynzorn.nd and Facebook: www.facebook.com/drkaitlynzornguelph/