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Natural Ways to Fight Depression

Natural Ways to Fight Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 350 million people suffer from depression all over the world, making it a problem of truly global proportions.  Depression comes with an array of difficult signs and symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or despair, physical pain, fatigue, problems with eating and sleeping and sometimes even thoughts or attempts at suicide.

The good news is, however, that along with medication and counselling, there are a lot of natural lifestyle choices you can make to help support your journey back to good mental health. Most of them are so simple that they might surprise you!

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    Regular Exercise

    This can be a difficult lifestyle choice to make because of the fatigue that depression can bring with it, but if you can manage it, regular and gentle exercise can support your emotional health. This is because physical activity release endorphins, natural “feel good” hormones that can help raise your mood levels naturally. Regular exercise can also combat stress, with frequently goes along with depression.

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      Stress Management

      Stress — and in the inability to cope with stress — is often an underlying cause of depression or can at least make the problem worse.  So taking up a stress-busting exercise like yoga or tai chi or learning how to meditate can help to deal with these feelings of anxiety and make them easier to cope with in healthy ways.

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        A Healthy Diet

        Many people with depression will tend to either over- or under-eat, leading to problems with weight.  However, a healthy, balanced diet with good portions of foods throughout the day can help you cope with depression by keeping your blood sugars balanced and your energy level steady; it will also help you to get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your nervous system (including your brain) healthy.

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          Natural Supplements

          There are also plenty of herbs and supplements out there that can also help you conquer your depression.  One of them is fish oil supplements; it has been found that the omega-3 fatty acids in the oil support the health and balance of the nervous system. Another one is St. John’s Wort, which is thought to help depression by increasing levels of serotonin, a “feel good” hormone in the brain. However, you should talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement to make sure it will not react with medications you are already taking.

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            Social Time

            One of the hardest parts of depression is how lonely and isolated it can make you feel. So even if you don’t always feel like it, get out and socialize and allow the support and love of your friends and family to get you through the tough times.  Support groups, friends, people from your church or other place of worship can all play a role in giving you the emotional strength you need as you work to get well.

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              Sleep

              If you are fighting a battle with depression, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep (ideally between 7 and 8 hours a night) cannot be over-emphasized. Sleep deprivation can make feelings of depression — as well as stress and anxiety — much worse and can put a strain on your nervous system and brain. However, make sure not to oversleep, which can be a struggle for some people who suffer from depression.

              The takeaway here is that if you are battling depression, you are not alone — and you can also be empowered to make the lifestyle changes that will help you overcome with problem.  A healthy, balanced diet, sleep, stress management, supplements and the support of friends and loved ones can all combine to make your journey more successful and to complement your medications and counselling.

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              Brian Wu

              Health Writer, Author

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              12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

              12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

              Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

              But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

              I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

              Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

              1. Nuts

              The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

              Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

              Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

              Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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              2. Blueberries

              Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

              When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

              3. Tomatoes

              Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

              4. Broccoli

              While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

              Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

              Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

              5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

              Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

              The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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              Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

              6. Soy

              Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

              Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

              Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

              7. Dark chocolate

              When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

              Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

              15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

              8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

              Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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              B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

              Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

              Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

              To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

              9. Foods Rich in Zinc

              Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

              Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

              Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

              10. Gingko biloba

              This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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              It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

              However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

              11. Green and black tea

              Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

              Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

              Find out more about green tea here:

              11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

              12. Sage and Rosemary

              Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

              Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

              When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

              Reference

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