1.) I Ate More Healthy Fats-
The wrong fats harm our brain, but the right ones are a powerful tool when it comes to healing it. Consuming lots of healthy fats has been crucial in healing my depression. I recommend virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter and ghee, avocado, and raw nuts. I also made sure that I consumed omega 3 fats, because consuming too many omega 6 fats and too little omega 3 can worsen depression. I get my omega 3 fats from cod liver oil capsules, but wild caught salmon, sardines, chia and flax seeds are also great sources. Our brains are made up of over 60% fat, and consuming too little fat or the wrong kinds of fat (such as soybean oil and other vegetable oils) makes it so our neurotransmitters don’t function properly which can worsen or even cause depression.
2.) I Consumed Bioavailable Sources of Vitamin D-
Synthetic supplements do little good, and are often worse than taking nothing at all because it adds to the load of toxins our bodies must eliminate. The easiest way to absorb vitamin D is by exposure to natural sunlight. A major factor in seasonal depression is the lack of sunlight we tend to be exposed to in the colder months. Besides spending time in the sun, cod liver oil capsules (my favorite brands are BeeYoutiful and Rosita) cured my own vitamin D deficiency.
3.) I Healed My Digestion-
Mainstream science still has much to learn about the gut’s vital role in our mental health, but this wisdom is anything but new. Our digestive system has a “brain” of its own, with over 100,000,000 different neurons that activate different neurotransmitters. Did you know that our intestines produce serotonin? I healed my digestion by adding in more fermented foods like kimchi, raw sauerkraut, kombucha, and atchara. When consuming probiotic foods, it’s a good idea to also consume PREbiotic foods such as asparagus, to help “feed” the food bacteria you’re adding in. I also realized that certain foods, particularly sugar and grains, were negatively affecting my gut flora. A good role of thumb is to listen to your body and limit or cut out any foods that give you any kind of digestive trouble, because that is indicative of an inflammatory internal response that will affect every aspect of your health, including mental.
4.) I Avoided Artificial Sweeteners-
Diet sweeteners such as aspartame are toxic to the brain. They can worsen and even cause depression and mood disorders because they act as excitotoxins in our brains and cause an inflammatory imbalance in our neurotransmitters. I recommend natural sweeteners such as raw honey, pure maple syrup, raw coconut sugar, and pure monk fruit.
5.) I Added Raw Cacao Into My Diet-
When I first tried raw cacao powder, I was surprised to find that I felt an enormous boost in mood and energy like I had never experienced before-one that didn’t lead to any kind of “crash” afterward. I have grown to value it as a powerful natural anti-depressant that has helped me recover. The same benefits will not be experienced with heated or processed cacao- be sure the word “raw” is on the label. Raw cacao nibs are nature’s chocolate chip. Raw cacao contains a compound called phenethylamine which triggers the release of endorphins and good-mood boosting neurochemicals in the brain. Raw cacao is a source of tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin, and it is the main food source of anandamide, a naturally occurring compound known as the “bliss molecule”.
6.) I Balanced My Hormones:
Although I’ve struggled with major depression since I was in elementary school, when I became ill with PCOS and endometriosis in my late teens, my depression hit an all time worse. I eventually came to the realization that my severe hormone imbalances were responsible for worsening my depression so drastically. You can read more about what I did to naturally heal my body in my earlier articles here on Millennial Muse.
7.) I Became More Mindful of My Ocular Diet- I never fully understood how much what I allowed my eyes to feast on affected my mental health until my boyfriend helped me directly correlate a string of severe panic attacks to watching movies that triggered my complex PTSD. As much care as I took to eat nutritious foods, I was still putting unhealthy things into my mind via the things I watched, read, and the toxic people I used to allow in my life. Cleaning up my internal environment by setting standards for what I allow into my heart and mind has made a world of difference in my recovery.