Many years ago I suffered from undiagnosed anxiety and depression. I survived this period on cigarettes and coffee and lots of junk food and takeaways. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or eat well and saw junk food as some kind of reward for getting through my day. Little did I know that eating this crap was fueling my condition.
Around 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy molecule) is made in the gut and serves the brain through the gut-brain axis along with other neurotransmitters. Therefore, what you eat plays a major role in how you feel.
There have been numerous studies on how the Mediterranean diet can alleviate depression and anxiety. Don’t be confused into thinking that pizza and lasagna from the local Italian restaurant constitutes a Mediterranean diet, it doesn’t. A real Mediterranean diet consists of mainly fruit and vegetables, no processed foods, seasonal fish, occasional chicken , minimal red meat in small amounts, plenty of olive oil and low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt. It is important to note that meat is only consumed 2-3 times per week and many meals consist only of vegetables. Also make sure you have plenty of fresh water, but don’t drink with meals as this dilutes your stomach acid.
Include magnesium rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and are rich in B vitamins, as are nuts. Also include probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and miso (and of course yogurt).