Monday, 26 May 2014

Nutty Prozac

A recent study has shown that a couple handfuls of Cashew nuts, as well as certain other health foods, can be as effective as a prescription dose of Prozac when it comes to reducing stress, anxiety and big list of other ailments.

Prozac, or if your from the United Kingdom like myself, you may be more familiar with the name Fluoxetine, is a prescription antidepressant, prescribed to treat things such as depression, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and a variety of other symptoms. As much as I'd like to talk about the over prescription of antidepressant drugs, that only treat the short term symptoms instead of treating the longterm causes, I promised myself to keep this post mainly about food.

So, where were we? Ah yes, the reasons cashews are so special is because of their chemical build up. Cashews contain the an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan which is broken down by your body in to Niacin which helps reduce anxiety and can help you sleep. Tryptophan is also made into everybody's favourite chemical, Serotonin. The reason why this is such a big thing is because most antidepressants only mimic the effect of Serotonin however foods like this can help create the real thing.

If you don't know what Serotonin is, is one of the bodies most important neurotransmitters. It is literally known as the happiness hormone and contributes to a list of other things including appetite, sleep, memory, mood, behaviour, metabolism and the list goes on.

Serotonin: C10H12N2O

So what other foods can contribute to improving your mood? Here's a list of 3 cashew-like foods that can give you that little boost.

1. Walnuts, Flaxseed and Chia Seed: My personal favourite, these 3 contain a type of Omega-3 that has been prove to keep you feeling chipper. Want to know about Chia? Check out my separate post

2. Dark Chocolate or Cacao: Chocolate contains mood-boosting compounds such as theobromine and phenylethyamine which has been shown to reduce anxiety. Cacao is quickly becoming one of the best health foods in the world.

3. Olive Oil: Studies have shown the people who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in Olive Oil, as well as nuts, fish and legumes are 30 percent less likely to become depressed compared to those who don't.

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