Animal sources of protein are some of the best foods you can eat when it comes to busting anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Without question, they are some of the top mood boosting foods out there. These days I eat quite a lot of animal protein daily. I was a vegan from the age of 16 until roughly 20. That means absolutely no sources of animal foods at all for nearly 5 years. I felt good at first on the vegan diet but my health steadily declined and weakened my body for the later stresses that occurred when I was 23. Vegan sources of protein like nuts and seeds and the various superfoods like hemp or rice protein powders never gave the same effect as good old fashioned animal protein. I’d go as far as to say that nuts and seeds caused me digestive problems and made my teeth ache.
Protein is extremely (extremely!!!) important for various processes in the body, many of them related to mood. Protein is needed for thyroid hormone synthesis. Some of the first symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland are depression and anxiety and panic attacks can follow as well. Thyroid hormone is an important anti-stress hormone. Without enough of it it’s easy to become overwhelmed by stress. This will directly contribute to anxiety and eventually panic attacks while your body struggles to deal with even simple stressors.
Protein is needed for the manufacture of various neurotransmitters. Without adequate protein your body cannot make the feel good neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, serotonin. Without these neurotransmitters you will likely feel tired, depressed, anxious, emotionally overwhelmed and easily succumb to panic attacks. Julia Ross has a great summary about this in her book The Mood Cure.
In my personal diet I eat a bit of seafood as a protein source nearly every day. The countries in the world with the highest seafood consumption are also the ones with the lowest incidences of mood disorders. Check out this link. I found this quote there:
“The authors point out that in countries where diets are rich in seafood, depression is nearly non−existent, in contrast to many Western countries.”
I eat lots of squid, various types of white fish like hake and angelfish as well as oysters if I have the opportunity. All types of seafood are great sources of many of the minerals that are lacking from our soils due to poor agricultural techniques. Seafood is also generally high in iodine and selenium. Two minerals very often lacking from modern soils. Both are extremely important minerals for our thyroid gland to help it synthesize thyroid hormone. As we discussed earlier, you’ll likely be depressed and prone to stress without enough thyroid hormone.
Fish is also a very good source of animal based omega 3 fats. Fish oil is a very popular supplement these days with many supposed benefits like protection against heart disease and improved mood and cognition. Unfortunately a supplement is never going to be as good as the real thing. There seem to be a few dangers to taking fish oil on a long term basis. Fortunately for us we can get all the benefits from omega 3 oils without any of the drawbacks just by eating seafood instead of taking fish oil pills. The whole fish also comes with the important minerals like selenium as well as a fantastic source of protein for the body. On a personal note, I took fish oil tablets for more than a year without any benefit that I could notice. Eventually I stopped taking it because I noticed I felt worse when I took it.
If you’re worried about mercury and other pollutants in seafood I highly suggest you check out this link. On a personal note, my mood problems originated from a combination of mercury poisoning from amalgam dental fillings and a once off use of marijuana. The clinical metal toxicologist I was working with in 2009 got me so scared of eating seafood due to the mercury content that I didn’t eat any seafood for nearly a year and a half. It was a huge mental barrier to overcome, because I was so worried about poisoning myself further with mercury. I’m really grateful I did a trial run of seafood consumption. My results have been great. Consuming seafood 5 to 7 times per week has helped me an incredible amount with my mood, memory and cognition.
I’m lucky in that I live in a seaside city. Seafood is cheap, very tasty and easy to prepare. Usually I fry my seafood in a bit of coconut oil on a medium heat and add a bit of salt, cajun spice for squid and some freshly squeezed lemon juice for fish.
Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about other healthy sources of protein in the diet like red meat, white meat and dairy products.