5 foods that will help you fight postpartum depression
Article by Cherlynn Ng
Pregnancy and labour, while celebratory milestones, can take a toll on a woman’s body and have debilitating effects. Even though everyone adjusts to parenthood differently, it’s not uncommon for new mums to experience ‘baby blues’ after delivery. These feelings, when prolonged, can be a sign of postpartum depression.
Although postpartum depression can be caused by a variety of reasons, diet has been identified as a risk factor (along with stress, lack of support, a history of the illness and more). Here are five crucial food items you can add to your diet for a perk-me-up and to help reduce your risks of succumbing to postpartum depression.
1. Whole grains
An energy-booster, whole grains help to increase serotonin levels in your body. Serotonin is a natural mood stabiliser that’s popularly known as ‘the happy chemical’. Thanks to their high fibre and iron content, whole grains also promote smooth bowels and maintain blood sugar levels. Brown rice, pasta and wholemeal bread all make great options.
2. Wild salmon
Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which aids in brain function and keeps postpartum depression at bay. It also contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which you might know to be an essential component in a baby’s visual and mental development. Even though you have already given birth, DHA can still be transferred from mother to child through breast milk. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
3. Eggs and yoghurt
Protein is a staple to any diet, especially for mothers who have just gone through labour and are in the confinement period. Not only does it help to produce feel-good hormones, protein also regulates one’s mood and has a relaxing effect on the mind. Food such as eggs and yoghurt are a wonderful source of proteins and vitamins. Do you know that a deficiency in these nutrients has been linked to depression in the general population?
With their proven abilities in stabilising moods and calming nerves, herbs make a valuable asset to any diet. Popular choices that mums favour are fenugreek, peppermint, chamomile, red clover and St John’s Wort. They add a dash of flavour to your food while giving you a much-needed boost.
5. Dark chocolate
Treat yourself to some pure dark chocolate and you might find your spirits lifting. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is loaded with antioxidants and lowers the risk of heart disease. One significant capability of dark chocolate is how it effectively improves blood flow, which in turn leads to lower blood pressure, improved brain function and hydrated skin. Last but not least, this delicious treat helps in the production of endorphins, which are known to relieve stress and boost moods. Yum indeed!
This list serves as a guide for mummies who are looking to improve their diet. If you have been experiencing persistent symptoms of postpartum depression, it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
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