Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness and millions of people all over the country suffer from it at one point in their lives. It can also be a condition which is exceedingly difficult to treat, with many mainstream therapies either proving to be ineffective or having side effects which patients are simply not willing to live with. This is one of the reasons why there can be compliance issues with this kind of medication.
There are, however, natural ways to help treat depression. These include regular, gentle exercise routines to release endorphins, stress relief techniques like meditation or yoga and being more socially active. Diet, too, can play a role in depression treatment and some foods like cashews offer natural alternatives to prescription medications.
Cashews and Depression
Consuming cashews on a regular basis can go a long way to helping treat depression naturally and without the unwanted side effects of many prescription antidepressants. This is because of the fact that cashews contain large amounts of amino acids and tryptophan; these amino acids are broken down into niacin in the body, while the tryptophan is broken down into serotonin. Serotonin a neurotransmitter and is incredibly important when dealing with depression; it is a “feel good” hormone, increasing energy levels and inducing in many a feeling of relaxation and contentment. Not surprisingly, many depressed people present with low levels of it. This could, in part, explain classic depression symptoms like fatigue and feelings of stress, anger or sadness. As a matter of fact, a few handfuls of cashews have around 2,000mg of tryptophan – approximately the same as Prozac, a leading prescription medication to treat depression.
It is important to note if trying this kind of natural therapy that a food rich in tryptophan by itself will not necessarily help. The tryptophan should be consumed with some form of carbohydrate, as this is necessary in order for this compound to be transported to the brain itself; a lack of carbs, on the other hand, can actually block tryptophan from crossing the blood-brain barrier. Healthy sources of carbs include whole grain products, legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Other Health Benefits
Cashews likely also have an indirect but positive effect on depression through improving the overall health of the entire body. It can, for one thing, help someone lose weight, which can increase energy levels and self-esteem and also alleviate depression signs and symptoms. It also acts on general bodily functions to improve heart health, relax the nerves (also excellent for depression treatment) and can also help someone get a good night’s sleep. All these are great, more indirect ways that cashews, used regularly, can help improve mental health.
In conclusion, those seeking a natural treatment for depression would do well to consider regular consumption of cashews, particularly in combination with carbohydrates. The effect that these nuts can have a serotonin levels can truly help those who are struggling to cope with this condition.
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