Managing depression is never easy, but it’s important that you do so as depression can upend your entire life, hurting you and those who care about you. If you’re depressed, take a close look at your diet, and choose foods that are packed with blues-busting nutrition. Brewer’s yeast, an inactive yeast byproduct of brewing beer, is a top choice. It’s filled with amino acids, the trace minerals chromium and selenium and B-complex vitamins, all of which help control depression.
1. Chromium dials down depression. Brewer’s yeast is the best nutritional source for chromium, an essential trace mineral. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels and fend off chronic inflammation in the body, which can make depression worse and lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. A University of North Carolina study found that chromium supplements dramatically improved symptoms of depression, with no adverse side effects.
Chromium is particularly helpful in controlling the symptoms of atypical depression. Atypical depression is a misnomer; it’s actually quite common, affecting one-third of those diagnosed with depression. If you are atypically depressed, you crave carbohydrates, eat and sleep excessively and, not surprisingly, gain weight. In a Duke University study published in Psychology Today, researchers found that the addition of chromium significantly decreased symptoms of atypical depression, including the tendency to overeat.
Because the typical American diet is based on high-glycemic index (GI) processed foods and refined carbohydrates, it is notably lacking in phytonutrients, including chromium. For example, when whole grains are milled, the chromium-rich bran and germ are removed. Similarly, when sugar cane or sugar beets are refined to make sugar, most of the phytonutrients, including chromium, are lost. Little wonder then that more than 21 million Americans are afflicted with depression — making it the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44.
2. Selenium helps prevent depression. The trace mineral selenium is abundant in brewer’s yeast. It helps prevent free radical damage in the body that leads to chronic inflammation and predisposes you to depression. In fact, research at the University of Wales has found that there may be a direct link between selenium deficiency and developing depression. The Daily Value (DV) for this mineral is 55 mcg. Study participants were given 100 mcg per day and reported improved mood. Safe dosages for this mineral range between 70 and 200 mcg daily.
3. Deter depression with B-rich brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast is a good source of B-complex vitamins, which are deficient in those who develop depression. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin B6 aids in converting tryptophan into serotonin, the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that helps you feel calm and content, as well as the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health, a deficiency in vitamin B6 may result in low levels of serotonin, which can quickly pave the way to depression.
A note of caution: Brewer’s yeast does not contain vitamin B12, which is vital for neurological support. Vitamin B12 is commonly found in meat and dairy foods, but you can also get your B12 by choosing B12-fortified breakfast cereal.
4. Stretch your healing food dollar with brewer’s yeast. The most economical way of eating brewer’s yeast is to buy the powder and sprinkle it on everything from popcorn to plain yogurt. It has a pleasant nutty taste. A little goes a long way. Two tablespoons give you 158% of your DV for chromium and DV of your DV for selenium.
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