CLEVELAND, OHIO — In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some are finding themselves in new territory – battling feelings of anxiety and depression.
According to Cleveland Clinic’s Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, we can help regulate our mood with diet, as there is a connection between what we eat and how we feel.
“There has been a lot of evidence in the past decade really looking at the connection between food and mood,” she said. “What we know is that foods that are very colorful, any kind of fruit or vegetable, really helps to boost mood.”
When times get tough, Kirkpatrick admits it can feel comforting to reach for sugary, highly-processed, or fast foods.
But, she reminds us that when we eat these foods, we usually end up feeling worse afterwards.
In fact, research has shown that a diet high in processed and sugary foods can actually increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
In addition to colorful fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids can help boost our spirits.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in items like chia seed, flaxseed, or through a fish oil supplement.
Kirkpatrick said an often over-looked factor, when it comes to anxiety, is our gut health.
“We have so many studies showing that our gut health is really closely tied to our brain health,” she said. “And because depression and anxiety can originate from inflammation in the brain, we have to improve our gut health during this time as well.”
Kirkpatrick recommends taking a probiotic and eating fermented food, such as pickles and sauerkraut, to improve gut health, which can contribute to lower rates of depression and anxiety.