Food & Mood

Cold Spot: n., a place or community with an unusually low number of people suffering from a particular dis-ease. 
  Depression is a rising mental disease affecting 350 million of the worldwide population.  Signs may include social withdrawal, low energy, hopelessness, and alcohol/drug abuse. One may lose emotional expression, interest in things once enjoyed, or experience a loss of appetite or even begin overeating.  There are many factors that can cause depression from tobacco smoking (addiction to nicotine) to thyroid disease (lack of proper hormone regulation). 
  Iceland is labeled one of the happiest countries in the world. How? One may assume that because of its freezing temperatures and dark winters that Iceland is a land of hopelessness. However, Iceland has less depression rates in all forms: seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder. To add, compared to North America, Iceland has almost half the death rate from heart disease, obesity, and consequently, a greater life expectancy. Researchers believe that the connection between food and mood is what keeps depression rates so low.
  To begin, Iceland consumes around 225 pounds of fish per person per year. That's a lot of sea food when you think about the United States consuming a mere 48 pounds of fish per person per year. Fish are an excellent source of Omega-3 fats, which are important for maintaining a healthy heart. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) are omega-3 fats that are very important in brain development. They have a big role in fetal brain and nervous system development and have also been shown to be critical to adult brain function. A diet rich in omega-3s may help to ease the symptoms of depression, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and aggressive or antisocial behaviors. Prescriptions for Omega-3s are growing as a compliment to antidepressant medication or even alone to treat depression. Omega-3 fats work because they have anti-inflammatory  properties and can work their way through the brain cell membrane to interact with neurotransmitters responsible for mood and emotions.
Extra info: I must add to always make sure to purchase fish that are sustainably sourced if you choose to consume fish meat. Through mass fishing, many other animals such as dolphins, sharks, whales, and sea turtles actually get caught in fish nets and die. These animals not only died unnecessarily but they are very important to the underwater food chain, not to say that fish aren't either. Since these larger animals do not produce as much offspring as the typical fish, the rates that they are being taken from their environment can have a detrimental impact on the sea environment if these animals becomed endangered or even extint.
  One of the reasons a lot of Americans do not consume as much fish as Iceland does may have something to do with the mercury scare. Now, I'm not saying that mercury levels in fish are nonexistent and that mercury is not extremely harmful to the human body. However, The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis has discovered that the pros of consuming at least 2 servings of fish a week outweigh the cons. There are plenty of fish that are low in mercury levels (see below chart). However, the contamination of mercury in fish is still a very real matter, and there needs to be stricter environmental laws to reduce emissions of toxic substances (i.e. methylmercury & polychlorinated bisphenyls) into the world's waterways. If you still do not want to risk mercury consumption, there are other foods that are high in Omega-3s like:
• Flaxseed(s) & Oil 
• Black Walnuts
• Dark Leafy Greens
• Chia Seeds 
• Hemp Seeds
  There are also fish oil supplements that you can take like cod liver oil. 
  Exercise is another factor that can help to treat depression.  Performing 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 4 days out of the week has been shown to reduce depression.  These exercises include swimming, dancing, hiking, cycling and walking. Do something you love when you can find the willpower within you. Get creative, get some flowers to nurture, or take a personal day. 
  I used to struggle with mild depression myself that I never liked to open up to anyone about. I understand that following these steps are easier said than done. If any of my readers need someone to talk to, that "Message Us" button is always there (and yes, it does work) if you need humble advice or a listening "ear". We were all put on this planet for a reason and there is not one person here who is less than the other. As a population, self care and preservation need to be seen as just as important as making a living. You are important and you are loved. It just takes a little remembering.
*This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any illness or disease. Please seek the help and advice of a licensed professional before applying any advice listed here. 
**Please call 911 if you or anyone you know is in any immediate danger 
Sources: 
The Jungle Effect. Daphne Miller, MD.
Depression: A Global Crisis. World Federation for Mental Health.

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