Pumpkin season may be my favorite time of year. I recently had a friend, and dear colleague, send me an article about some of the science behind my love for this time of year. This naturally gave me the evidence, or perhaps justification is more appropriate, for filling my kitchen with all things pumpkin. So, lets take a closer look into this beautiful vegetable or, as I stand corrected by my five-year-old — “Anything with seeds, Mom, is a fruit,” let’s take a look at this beautiful fruit.
Pumpkin seeds contain high amounts of magnesium. If we check-in with the experts, it turns out that magnesium is a protectant against depression and anxiety. In fact, a handful of nuts and seeds, which are a great plant-based protein, source of fiber, and zinc, can go a long way in giving your brain the boost to encourage continued growth and strengthen the gut-brain communication. Consider making it a mid-afternoon snack, adding to your avocado toast or a salad! Perhaps grab this recipe from one of my favorite cook books by Rebecca Katz, The Healthy Mind Cookbook, or try Dr. Drew Ramsey’s Pumpkin Smoothie recipe!
As a cognitive-behavioral therapist the growing body of research around nutrition and mental health is important in my practice. Recognizing our brains are capable of change across our life span provides the evidence that our choices (behaviors) and how we think (cognitive) about our goals includes what we have control over. We have control over what we eat, for the most part, which impacts our brain health. It is up to you to pick foods that you enjoy and promote good gut health, therefore optimizing your brain and body communication. If this is an area that speaks to you, consider discussing more with your medical provider, and potentially work with your therapist to problem-solve barriers, unpack your beliefs in this area, and address any behavioral activation approaches that you may benefit from implementing.