Ginger Turkey Stir Fry — A New Recipe For Depression Support

I received a lot of feedback and traffic to the blog when I posted the High Protein Smoothie recipe for depression nutrition support. The post seemed to strike a nerve, and it’s no wonder. Depression and anxiety are on the rise. Kids, especially, are suffering at ever increasing rates. According to a New York Times article today: “In 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at U.C.L.A. began asking incoming college freshmen if they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year. In 1985, 18 percent said they did. By 2010, that number had increased to 29 percent. Last year, it surged to 41 percent.”

In 32 years, the rate of U.C.L.A. freshman who feel overwhelmed rose by over 200%. This is startling.

I can’t begin to address the issue of depression and anxiety in depth like mental health professionals can. It’s an intricate problem with many factors, and I primarily focus on the nutrition aspect. But, I can say that we as a civilization seem to be moving further away from spending time together in person. People feel isolated and alone. This is one reason why I proposed Crappy Dinner nights, which have taken off like gangbusters and are now a weekly occurrence amongst my friends. Another factor that has been studied is our lack of time in nature. Children are given less time to play outside during school and adults spend most of their days indoors as well (I wrote a post about this, you can read it here).

One thing I know for sure is that our diets, what we eat and drink, is negatively affecting our mental health. Inflammation plays a role in our mental well-being, just as it does with cardiovascular, metabolic, and brain health. When we eat mostly pro-inflammatory foods like highly processed flours and sugars, our brains aren’t being fed what they need to be happy and healthy. Our gut health, which is a key factor in the health of our other bodily systems, is worse for the wear when we eat these pro-inflammatory foods. If our gut microbiota is out of whack, so is the rest of us. You can read about it in the paper titled “The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression” in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience. In the conclusion, the authors write: “Poor diet is a risk factor for depression; thus, a healthy diet may prevent depression. Regulation of the gut microbiota using diet, probiotics and FMT may have important benefits for preventing and treating depression”.  For those wondering what FMT means, it’s fecal microbiota transplantation, which is a process used for certain gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.

To be clear: I do not believe people who are depressed or anxious can magically cure themselves with diet. If it were that easy, no one would be suffering. But I do believe diet can play a role in mental health and wellness, just as it can when we are battling cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. It’s a piece of the puzzle.

So, my advice to anyone with depression or anxiety is to, little by little if that’s what’s feasible, add in some anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. Try to crowd out the cookies and crackers with whole foods like high quality proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates. These foods will nourish your brain and help reduce inflammation. Use lots of herbs and spices a.k.a. “booster foods”. And please, don’t ever go off any medications or treatments without the express consent from your doctor. 

See below for an easy and delicious Ginger Turkey Stir Fry recipe. If it were me, I’d make the brown rice using frozen pre-cooked rice from the grocery store. It saves a lot of time and leaves you one less pot to wash. If you feel like having chicken or beef, use that instead. Opt for high-quality, grass fed meat as much as possible. They are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. 

**I am not a doctor nor am I qualified to give medical advice. Please see a licensed medical professional for any medical concerns you might have.

 

 

RECIPES FOR ANXIETY_DEPRESSION

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The Importance of Zinc

LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!

The Japanese have a word that describes time spent in nature — it roughly translates to the phrase “forest bathing”.   It essentially encapsulates fully immersing yourself in the experience of being in nature.  You are “bathing” in the trees, the branches, the leaves, the sounds, the smells.  It might sound completely woo-woo but hold on a second — there is really something to it.

My favorite place to walk my dog Sammy. It’s right in the city and I can feel myself relax when I’m there.

Back in the 1980’s a neurobiology researcher named Robert Ulrich discovered that when hospital rooms had a view of nature, the patients healed faster than those that didn’t. Newer research has found a link between walking in natural settings and less depression and anxiety.  Not to mention we all know being outside and walking helps us stay active and fit.  Adding a natural component means we can also reduce our stress levels (which can lead to further health benefits).

A new program called ParkRx is seeing pediatricians and other physicians literally prescribing time in nature to their patients who are sedentary, obese or overweight and suffering from the repercussions, like asthma.  As one doctor said “Park Rx, therefore, serves two purposes: (1) to help create a healthier, happier society, and (2) to preserve and create more natural places through our next generation of environmental stewards, conservationists, and activists.  Giving children time in Nature to explore, especially through unstructured play, is essential to their overall development and well-being.”  I would add that giving ANYONE time in nature is essential to our well-being.

The photo above shows my daughter and her pals at the end of a two week horse camp. She comes home each day filthy and exhausted but so happy.

I have a friend who works for the USDA Forest Service in Arizona and he literally sleeps under the stars many nights.  His job is building trails and directing a team of employees and volunteers.  His Instagram account is stunning, and I can feel myself physically relax at just the sight of his photos.  It is such an amazing thing to see how being outside in the elements day after day contributes to his health and happiness.

Sunset at Camp
One of my friend Andy’s stunning shots of his adventures on the trail. This one is called Sunset at Camp.

So, if you are trying to add some healthy habits to your lifestyle, I would strongly suggest starting by finding time to be in nature several times a week.  If you are starting at no times a week, try just adding one or two.  If you are in an urban environment, find a tree.  Any tree.  Pay attention to how doing this makes you feel.  Do you breathe more deeply?  Do your shoulders become unhunched?  Can you feel your heart rate slow down? Take advantage of this totally free health benefit, and encourage your children to do the same.

Until next time!