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As we all across the nation strive to preserve our physical health and well-being due to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining our mental health is also increasingly challenging.  Each waking day the fear and stress resulting from the epidemic play havoc on both of our physical and psychological existence.    Statistics report that one-third of Americans experience signs of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic’s social, economic, and physical impacts. The media is continuously suggesting various forms of recommendations on ways of controlling our mental health.  Many of these recommendations include the addition of Psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.  However, as I continue to proclaim, “medication alone is not the cure-all.”  Evidence-based research continues to support without the addition of exercise, sufficient sleep, and proper nutritional care, and even Psychotherapy medications are ineffective.   Lifestyle modifications are essential now more than ever to get us through this Pandemic situation. 

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining both physical and mental health.  To illustrate the effectiveness of Diet, a study in PLOS  ONE journal compares the rate of depression among two groups of participants.  Study groups consist of members with an eating pattern-change to a Mediterranean diet and the other group consisting of intake of refined carbohydrates, processed foods, high sugars.    Results show symptoms of depression decreased significantly among the group of participants consuming the Mediterranean Diet.  In contrast, the group that did not change their diets and consumed more “comfort foods” such as refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugary foods and beverages continues in their moderately severe state of depression.  These results correlate to recent statements by the food industry trackers, “comfort food and alcohol retail sales have spiked and are in high demands due to the pandemic.”

Could it be too many of us are turning to the wrong resources to bring relief, which is not producing the comfort we seek, instead are intensifying the ordeal of anxiety and depression we are trying to escape?

Nutrition is essential to sustain both mental and physical health, as research demonstrates this is possible by adhering to the Mediterranean Diet.  The mineral Magnesium also has a direct association with brain functions and depression.  An abundance of evidence-based research is showing deficiency in Magnesium corresponds with an increase in depression.   An interesting analysis looking at patients in a primary care environment questioning if there was an association between patients suffering from depression and their serum magnesium levels.  The study results report that patients who were deficient in Magnesium tend to have a higher level of depression.  Thus, the study stipulates that supplementing Magnesium may be a useful biological mechanism for treating mild to moderate depression.  A magnesium deficiency is prevalent among most Americans as a result of the typical American Diet.   The average American may consume approximately 250 mg. per day, whereas the reference daily intake (RDI) for Magnesium is 400 mg. Supplementation may be necessary; however, remember it is always best to acquire nutrients naturally through whole foods due to the synergic nature of food. Listed below are rich sources of Magnesium which will help you meet your RDI:

  • Peas: Black eye peas, chickpeas, green peas
  • Legumes: beans navy, pinto, lima, soybeans, black bean – (1 cup) = 120 mg
  • Nuts: Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews – (1oz) = 82 mg
  • Dark Chocolate – (1 oz) = 64 mg
  • Avocado – (1) = 58 mg
  • Tofu – (3.5 oz) = 53 mg
  • Seeds: Pumpkin – (1 oz) = 150 mg
  • Whole Grains: wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat – (1 oz) = 65 mg
  • Fatty Fish: salmon – (7 oz) = 53 mg
  • Leafy Green Vegetables: kale, spinach – (1 cup) = 157 mg collard greens, turnip, and mustard 

When current events start to pressure, I often find myself snacking on a handful of almonds or having a green salad with lots of avocados and spicy black bean soup for lunch.   Walking outside with the sunshine beaning down filled with Vitamin D all appear to work in changing the mood.  Defeating Depression with Magnesium is undoubtedly worth a try.