Duke University’s Director of Nutrition recently discussed how foods can help affect your moods and what to eat when you’re feeling depressed.

The wrong foods can cause physiological reactions that intensify symptoms such as lethargy, irritability and cravings. But the right foods can stabilize blood sugar, eliminate mood swings and boost neurotransmitters in the brain-all factors that influence how depression makes you feel.

The following can impact your attitude and health:

1. Vitamin B. A diet rich in Vitamin B can help lessen the severity of depression symptoms. A 2010 study of 3,000 adults followed over 12 years found that those with lower intakes of B-6 and B-12 had a higher risk of depression. Eggs, particularly the yolk, lean beef, poultry, fish and wheat germ are especially good sources of Vitamin B.

2. Magnesium. Foods high in magnesium influence production of serotonin, a ‘feel good’ brain chemical. Magnesium also affects overall energy production. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of magnesium.

3. Omega-3. This fatty acid DHA increases membrane quality and nerve function in the brain. Some studies have found that DHA consumption increases gray matter in the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the cingulated, the three areas in the brain associated with mood.  Cold water fish is the best source, but  fish-oil supplement is a practical alternative to those who do not consume fresh fish three times a week..

4.Ancient Grains. Any whole grain is good, but the so called ‘ancient grains’ are better. These are less likely to be processed or man-made. The ancient grains include quinoa, millet, amaranth and barley. An additional benefit is they are more tolerable for those who have wheat or gluten intolerance, excluding barley.

5. Green Tea. The amino-acid L-thiamine in green tea stimulates alpha brain waves. This can improve focus while having a calming effect on the body- its effects can last up to 8 hours.

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