Depression is a disorder that can impact the way you think, feel, and act. It’s caused by a variety of factors including the chemical reactions in your body, genetics, personality such as having poor self-esteem, and the environment where you’re often exposed to violence, abuse, or poverty. The good news is depression can be treated in a lot of ways.
One of the ways to improve symptoms of depression is by modifying your diet. Food plays a crucial role not only in your physical health but also on your mental wellbeing. It can either lift you or give you some blues.
If you feel you aren’t your best self for some time now, try to recall the most common food or substance present in your diet. For example, if you’ve been eating foods with artificial sweeteners lately, chances are they can be your triggers.
People diagnosed with depression should avoid sugar because this substance can contribute to chronic inflammation, which may impact your mental function. Aside from sugary foods, junk foods also have the same negative effects on your brain function.
One study revealed that swapping processed and junk foods for a healthier diet can significantly improve depression symptoms. People who drink at least four cans of soda have a 30 percent higher risk of depression while people who consume at least four glasses of sweetened fruit drinks have a 38 percent higher risk of depression.
In another study, adolescents who have higher levels of sodium and low levels of potassium in their urine, which are indicative of processed food consumption, were found to have frequent symptoms of depression. Adolescents who consume more sweeteners and junks are more particularly prone to depression because they’re still in their developmental period.
The Link Between Sugar and Depression
Sugar can increase depression symptoms in four ways.
First, it can contribute to insulin and leptin resistance, which impairs the signaling system in your body, leading to poor mental health.
Second, sugar can suppress the activity of the key growth hormone that promotes healthy neurons.
Third, sugar can cause inflammation, which can disrupt your immune system function, leading to greater risks for depression.
Fourth, it can impair your microbiome, causing you to respond poorly in stressful situations.
Not only is sugar a culprit for depression, but it can also increase your risk of schizophrenia, which is a mental disorder characterized by inconsistencies and delusion.
Just recently, PLOS ONE published a study of young adults diagnosed with depression, which showed how diet modification can significantly improve depression symptoms.
The participants who belonged to the treatment group were given a specific diet that was instrumental in improving their symptoms. Their diet consisted of the following foods:
1. Fatty fish high in omega 3s
Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids is beneficial for your body’s health. But experts say this food group is crucial for your mental health as well. These healthy fats are essential in your brain function.
People with depression symptoms were found to have low blood levels of brain chemicals found in fish oil. Hence, experts recommend eating fatty fish like sardines, tuna, salmon, herring, and trout a few times a week. If fresh produce isn’t available, canned alternatives also provide the same benefits.
Fish oil supplements are also available in the market. Though more research is needed for fish oil’s effectivity, taking this supplement may still be worth it. Experts also advise not to take fish oil in extreme doses since it’s found to cause bleeding and impairment in your immune system.
Your mom was right when she said you need to eat your veggies. Vegetables not only help you improve your digestion and keep your skin healthy, but they also help regulate your mood.
People with depression have lower levels of folate, which is one of the B vitamins that help convert carbohydrates to energy. When you’re low on energy, you’re likely to be too weak to fight off the blues.
Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, Brussels sprout, and watercress, are also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, which is one type of omega 3 fatty acids.
Nuts are also a good source of omega 3s. Cashews, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are on top of the list, but if you want the best of them all, go for walnuts. Walnuts ranked as the best plant source of omega 3s and are well known to boost your brain function.
In a study, participants who consumed nuts, particularly walnuts were found to be more optimistic, energetic, focused, and showed more interest in their activities.
Beans contain protein and fiber, which help regulate blood sugar levels, as well as folate, which is essential for brain function and new cell growth. The garbanzo beans have the highest amount of folate. A half cup of them can provide you the daily recommended value.
Fruits that are rich in magnesium content such as bananas, avocados, figs, and raspberries are also recommended for people with depression symptoms. Adults with mild to moderate depression symptoms were found to have improvements after taking magnesium supplements.
Your gut is also one key to maintaining a healthy mental function and decrease the risk of depression.
Numerous studies show that the microorganisms living in your gut help improve your mood by reducing inflammation and producing neurotransmitters that help support a healthy stress response.
You can achieve a healthy gut by regular consumption of probiotics found in yogurt, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and tofu. On the other hand, consuming foods high in saturated fats, artificial sweeteners, and emulsifiers can alter your gut microbiome and increase your risk of inflammation.
Nutrition truly affects almost all areas of your health. Make sure to keep depression symptoms in check by practicing a healthy diet. If you can’t control your depression symptoms, it may also affect your relationship and even your sex life.
When you’re depressed, you may lose interest in your daily activities including sex, which can make you feel depressed all the more.
Depression and Low Energy
Oftentimes, depression symptoms are triggered when you’re low on energy, which can be caused by relationship or performance issues. If this is the case, manage your depression and low energy by taking supplements that have the power to help increase your energy levels, performance, and stamina.