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Happy food

Zubin Dsouza

Recently two Bollywood superstars tied the knot in what has definitely been touted as the big fat Indian wedding of the year!

Doing away with the regular tradition of gifts and being showered with excesses, the couple made an appeal to all the invitees to instead use the money to support an organisation run by the bride.

The organisation is one that helps victims tackle the effects of depression.

Having been a victim of depression herself and quite a vocal proponent of mental health care, the project is close to the couple’s heart and they want to ensure that no one goes through a similar trauma again.

I was quite impressed by the commitment of this young couple.

They have decided to forge ahead against the forces and slurs of a society that is more accustomed to sweeping issues such as these under the carpet.

Anxiety or depression can be triggered by various factors. There is stress or genetics; hormonal imbalances, illnesses or tragedies; in fact the triggers can vary from person to person.

You could look at a seemingly happy person and dissect their perfect lives and wonder how they could be depressed but that does not change the fact that the dark forces continue to churn below the calm exterior.

It got me thinking; can food in some manner help to alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety?

In some ways yes! Out of the 34 essential nutrients required for the body 12 have been linked to the treatment or prevention of depression and anxiety linked disorders.

These twelve which include selenium, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, zinc, folate, iron, Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12 and C.

These form the crux of what is known colloquially in psych parlance as the anti-depressant food score.

Surprisingly even lack of water or dehydration has been linked to feelings of moroseness and viewing the world through dark tinted shades.

Green tea and chamomile tea have been used for centuries as aides against depression and great refreshers and for rehydration.

Asparagus is great for your body’s folate deficiency since a couple of spears are enough to provide a third of your daily requirements.

Avocadoes are a great source of Vitamin B6 which prepares serotonin.

Blueberries are packed with Vitamin C along with oranges, limes and lemons.

A great source of almonds is magnesium which is related to heart health along with the fact that it helps beat depression.

The body has several neurotransmitters like GABA, acetylcholine, serotonin and dopamine amongst others.

Dopamine in my opinion is probably the most important chemical transmitter in your brain.

It is involved in you getting motivated, aiding your memory and even in regulating certain body movements.

When there are high levels of dopamine in your body, there are feelings of satisfaction and euphoria.

Low levels in contrast are linked to decrease in motivation and feelings of dejection.

Dopamine is generally regulated by the nervous system but there are still some things that we may be able to do to increase these levels naturally.

We already know the wonderful work that dark chocolate does to our mood.

Apart from giving our dopamine levels an unconditional boost, dark chocolate helps to release serotonin and it also relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system.

Additionally chocolate also contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine which are keys to increasing the brain function in the short term.

High flavanol products like cocoa also increase the blood flow to the brain.

Out of the 23 amino acids available in the body, some are synthesized within the human system while others have to be obtained from food.

Phenylalanine sounds like a mouthful but it can react with enzymes in the body to create ‘tyrosine’. Tyrosine simultaneously occurs naturally within the human body as an amino acid.

Tyrosine can react with enzymes to create dopamine and the feeling of ecstasy.

Tyrosine and phenylalanine are found in protein dense foods like turkey, eggs, dairy, legumes and soy.

The mammalian brain contains 80 per cent fats or lipids. Around the turn of the 20th century, humans started shifting away from diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. This is roughly the same time that evolutionary scientists have linked to a rise in psychiatric and neurological issues.

A diet rich in Omega-3 fats is linked with greater brain health and the best part is that these foods occur naturally in abundance.

Walnuts, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, eggs and flax seeds all possess what we so desperately seek.

So the next time you feel the world is not as rosy as it is meant to be, it may only mean that you are missing out on a dose of chocolate!

Categories: Zest
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