Eating probiotic foods to reduce depression can be as effective as antidepressants for some people – without the expense and side effects. Over the past few years, many news organizations and universities have featured research on gut bacteria and how it affects depression.
Researchers at Ireland's University College Cork and McMaster University in Ontario published a study on their 2011 findings linking mood to gut bacteria. The results showed that mice given a bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus were more relaxed than other mice during the experiment. Lactobacillus rhamnosus is used to ferment milk into yogurt, and it contains GABA, a neurotransmitter which reduces anxiety. Valium and other anti-anxiety drugs work by focusing on GABA receptors in the brain. The 2011 study proved that good gut bacteria could find away through the blood-brain barrier to affect mood and mental function. The study's leader, John Cryan of University College Cork, determined that gut microbes send electrical impulses up to the brain through the vagus nerve.
Billions,or perhaps trillions, of bacteria are active in the colon, and they affect our digestive system. Bad bacteria triggers chronic gut problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease. But research also indicates good gut bacteria - or the lack of it - contributes to depression and anxiety Probiotic foods to reduce depression do more than help your mood and your digestion. They also contain plenty of amino acids and vitamins to guard against cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Changing your diet is the best way to produce more depression-fighting gut bacteria. While medical experts have differing opinions about the importance of grains and fruits to stomach microbes, they're in agreement about vegetables.
Eating more plants (especially leafy green vegetables) helps you develop bacteria diversity in your gut. A healthier digestive system means better mood and cognitive function. Data shows that Americans who eat 25 or more plant foods weekly have more depression-reducing gut bacteria than people who eat 10 plant foods or less.
Fermented foods raise the amount of GABA in your brain to help you relax. Having a healthy amount of this chemical in your system is important to keep everyday stressors from getting to you. Yogurt, olives and miso are just a few of the fermented foods that raise your GABA level.
Include probiotic foods to reduce depression in your daily meal plan. Probiotics help you avoid mood swings and stay emotionally balanced, regardless of the problems life sends your way. Probiotics increase healthy gut bacteria, which affects your brain's neurotransmitters and your mood.
Good food, exercise and a healthy lifestyle keep your body and mind fine-tuned. You'll make better decisions when you're well-nourished, well-rested and happy.
Researchers at the College of William and Mary connected the good stomach bacteria provided by fermented foods to reduced social anxiety and moodiness. Their study, published in the August 2015 issue of Psychiatry Research, showed that college undergraduates who ate the most fermented foods, including sauerkraut, yogurt and pickles, were less likely to suffer from social anxiety, fear or depression. The reason? Fermented foods add good gut microbes to your system, which travel to your brain through the vagus nerve to help regulate mood.
Fermented foods, along with beans and protein-rich diet choices, are a great natural way to boost mood and calm your nerves. Foods with plenty of protein contain amino acids to help good stomach microbes produce neurochemicals. The neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine and serotonin thrive on a good diet. When you feed your gut-and your brain- with protein-rich foods, you'll feel happier calmer, and more focused.
A fermented dairy beverage similar to yogurt, kefir contains all the probiotic bacteria of yogurt, along with bacteria from yeast. If you're lactose intolerant, kefir provides an enzyme called lactase, which devours most of the lactose left after culturing is completed. Kefir is full of calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B12, protein and the calming amino acid tryptophan (the same one found in turkey).
Kefir can be made from cow, sheep or goat milk or vegan milks (coconut, soy, almond). Kefir forms gelatinous white or yellow grains during the fermentation process. (The grains are removed with a strainer before drinking.) These grains have between 10 and 20 bacteria, yeast, sugars and casin (milk protein). Kefir contains lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria. Some lactobacilli strains have been shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Bifidus bacteria have also been proven to reduce depression, anxiety and memory loss, according to the American Psychological Association.
Use kefir instead of milk to make probiotic-rich smoothies, or combine it with fresh fruit for a tasty dessert or snack. You can buy kefir grains or starter powder online or from a health food store to make your own kefir.
Avoid flavored, premixed yogurt in tiny containers. Premixed yogurt may still have live cultures, but include sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners or flavors that counteract any of its healthy ingredients.
A better option: buy a tub of plain yogurt and make your own flavors using fresh fruit, granola, seeds and nuts. Scoop out a cup or bowl of yogurt for snacks, adding your favorite fruits and chopped nuts. The delicious possibilities are only limited by your creativity, and they offer lots of vitamins and minerals to
Blueberries, strawberries, sliced peaches and pineapple chunks provide Vitamin C and inflammation-fighting antioxidants, while flaxseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds offer B vitamins, magnesium and iron. Sliced bananas offer potassium, Vitamin B6 and manganese. Walnuts have Omega 3 fats to improve heart health, and almonds have plenty of biotin (Vitamin B7) and Vitamin E.
Sauerkraut is produced by letting cabbage and salt ferment for two weeks without vinegar. Sauerkraut's sour taste is caused by the lactic acid created during fermentation. Lactic acid is highly beneficial to human beings for its antifungal and antiallergic functions, reduction of lactose intolerance and immune system stimulation, according to a study published in the Critical Review of Microbiology.
Sauerkraut is high in digestive enzymes and Vitamin C. Cabbage contains cancer-fighting isothiocyanate compounds, and as long as you buy unpasteurized sauerkraut you'll get all the benefits of lactobacillus bacteria to fight infection and improve digestion. If you're eating a sandwich with a side of sauerkraut, you'll get double the probiotics if you eat it on sourdough bread. Real sourdough bread is made with sourdough starter, which is similar to yeast. The sourdough starter used to ferment the bread contains billions of lactobacillus bacteria and millions of yeast for more probiotic power. Sourdough bread will help you feel full longer since it has a low glycemic level. If you're trying to lose weight, eat a sandwich made with sourdough bread.
Any one who cooks a lot knows about the health advantages of olive oil, but eating olives are just as good for you. They contain Lactobacillus bacteria to boost your mood via your stomach microbes, and they're full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. A mainstay of the Mediterranean diet along with other fruits, whole grains, vegetables, seafood and beans, olives are bitter fruits from the Olea europea tree. Olives can be fermented with caustic soda, lye or water along with salt.
Olives offer all the mood-boosting benefits of probiotics and lots more. A cup of black olives contains 155 calories, and is rich in iron, Vitamin E, copper and fiber. Hydroxytyrosol, a phytonutrient in olives, has been linked to bone health and cancer prevention. They also contain antihistamines to provide anti-inflammatory benefits that guard against allergies. Snack on olives or include them in salads or as garnishes with sandwiches or main dishes.
5. Other Fermented Vegetables
Sauerkraut is made from fermenting cabbage, but other vegetables can be fermented and provide depression-fighting bacteria.Carrots, cucumbers, green beans, radishes, garlic cloves, cauliflowers and red bell peppers are just a few of the vegetables that can be fermented.
Fermented veggies offer a wide variety of beneficial bacteria for digestive health and depression. The process of fermentation occurs when bacteria in vegetables breaks down the veggies' components into a more nutritious, easy to digest form. During fermentation, lactic acid forms, killing bad bacteria. Fermented foods were common until the advent of home refrigeration in the 1920s. Most raw vegetables can be safely fermented at home. This article gives you tips on properly fermenting.
6. Soft Cheeses
Think of cottage cheese as yogurt light. It's packed with lactobacillus casel, a beneficial bacterium that neutralizes bad bacteria and boosts immunity. Add fresh fruit to cottage cheese for even more health benefits from Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Swiss, Gouda, Cheddar and other soft fermented cheeses have bacteria that survive the passage through the GI tract, giving you better gut bacteria that eventually benefit your brain and emotional health.
Made from fermented soybeans, this traditional Japanese food has a pungent smell and the fermented beans are sticky when chewed. Natto is stringy, and is usually eaten with rice for breakfast in Japan. You can mix rice, soy sauce and natto together for a snack or side dish.
Natto contains bacillus subtilis, a good bacteria strain found in water, air and soil. This bacterium suppresses pathogens in the body and encourages growth of good strains of probiotics in the gut. It has also been shown to reduce the severity of irritable bowel syndrome. Natto is high in Vitamin K, which encourages blood clotting and decreases the chance of osteoporosis, tooth decay and cardiovascular disease. A 3.5 ounce serving of natto has 1,000 mcg (micrograms) of Vitamin K2. Natto has an enzyme called nattokinase, which breaks down the protein fibrin. Too much fibrin in the body can cause poor circulation, stroke or heart attack.
Buy natto in the frozen food section of Asian grocery stores. It may come with a sauce containing fructose corn syrup or other processed ingredients. Use soy sauce instead for a healthier meal.
A food made from fermented soybeans like miso, tempeh is packed with protein. It's used as a meat substitute by vegans and vegetarians. Tempeh is less processed than tofu and has a brownish color, with soybeans visible in its flat, rectangle-shaped bars.It has more calories than tofu, but contains more nutrients. A half-cup of tempeh has 15.4 grams of protein compared to tofu's 10.1 and 3.5 grams of fiber compared to tofu's .5.
You can add tempeh to pasta, soups, salads or casseroles. It's chewy and has a sweet earthy taste, unlike tofu, which soaks up flavors from other foods. You can find tempeh in the refrigerated section of most health food stores.
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