Depression is a debilitating condition that negatively affects how a person feels, the way they think and how they behave. Depression causes feelings of sadness, disinterest and separation; and can lead to a loss of appetite, insomnia and thoughts of suicide. Serious and chronic depression can even interfere with a person’s ability to work and function at home.
Recent Health at a Glance statistics reported that 9% of Canadians were on some form of antidepressant. Many factors can contribute to the development of depression, but nutritional imbalances are amongst one of them. Eating a well-balanced whole food diet will supply the body with the nutrients it needs and eliminate any deficiencies. Deficiencies can cause the body to experience a feeling of grief which can be expressed as depression. There are several nutritional imbalances that could make you more susceptible to depression such as low levels of Omega-3, serotonin, B vitamins and/or vitamin D; or high levels of homocysteine and/or sugar; or specific food or chemical intolerances.
Omega-3 fats are called essential fats because they are not manufactured by the human body, and thus must be introduced through your diet. Omega-3 helps to build the brain’s neuronal connections as well receptor sites for neurotransmitters. Meaning, the more omega-3s in the blood, the more serotonin the body will produce. Foods high in omega-3 include flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, clams, crabs, mackerel, eggs, yogurt and walnuts.
Low levels of B vitamins can result in high levels of homocysteine levels which can cause feelings of depression. Folic acid, B2, B6, B12, zinc, magnesium and TMG (trimethyglycine), all help to normalize homocysteine levels. B12 deficiency can also result in more serious conditions like anemia. Foods high in B vitamins, magnesium and zinc include mackerel, shellfish, crab, salmon, trout, poultry, low-fat dairy, kefir, feta, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, cereals, whole grains, almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, green peas, brussels sprouts, avocado, dark leafy greens, spinach, banana, broccoli, asparagus, beans and legumes.
Vitamin D (sunshine) deficiency occurs with people living in colder climates during the winter months; with the elderly and with disabled people. Twenty minutes of prime sunshine with arms and legs exposed every day is necessary for the average person to reach minimum vitamin D levels.
High sugar intake increases the amount of glucose in your blood which causes the body to feel fatigued and irritable and a person to feel depressed. A person can also experience insomnia, excessive sweating (especially at night), poor concentration, forgetfulness, excessive thirst, blurred vision, digestive disturbances, anxiety, crying fits and depression. Maintaining a sugar-free diet will be highly beneficial when fighting depression .
Gluten has been associated with increased cases of depression, especially with people with severe intolerances. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and is associated with Coeliac Disease. A gluten-free diet for a few weeks can help determine whether gluten is giving you a hard time.
Artificial ingredients, highly processed foods and fried foods heavily saturated in fats have all been linked to depression. These types of foods are difficult for the body to break down and digest and can introduce harmful substances and chemicals into the body. Choosing natural whole and organic foods when grocery shopping will help guarantee a healthy and nutritious diet. A healthy body will feed a healthy mind.
Poor posture and respiratory disorders have also been linked to depression as they can restrict the amount of oxygen you breathe and feed into your body. A lack of oxygen or poor circulation can cause stress and a feeling of grief which can be expressed as depression. Getting fresh air and practicing light daily exercises will help the blood to circulate oxygen throughout your body, improving cognitive function and emotional outlook.
Written by: J. Marshall
Try my Rainbow Trout Amandine recipe! Rainbow trout and almonds are both excellent food sources to fight depression.
Try my Mixed Pea Spring Garden Salad recipe! Dark leafy greens and green peas are excellent food sources to fight depression.
• Precision Nutrition / Mood Food: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition
• Prevention / 13 Foods That Fight Stress: http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/13-healthy-foods-that-reduce-stress-and-depression
• NCBI: U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health / Effects of oxygen concentration and flow rate on cognitive ability and physiological responses in the elderly: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107523/
• NCBI: U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health / Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illness: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
• Food for the brain: Championing optimum nutrition for the mind / depression: http://www.foodforthebrain.org/nutrition-solutions/depression/about-depression.aspx
• Dr. Axe: Food is Medicine / How to Fight Depression and Anxiety with Nutrition: https://draxe.com/how-to-fight-depression-and-anxiety-with-nutrition/
• Dr. Axe: Food is Medicine / Mood-Boosting Foods: 7 Foods to Greater Happiness: https://draxe.com/mood-boosting-foods/
• PsychCentral / Why Your Diet Can Make or Break Depression Recovery: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/01/08/why-your-diet-can-make-or-break-depression-recovery/
• Mercola: Take Control of Your Health / Scientific Links Between Processed Foods and Depression Keep Getting Stronger: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/16/link-between-processed-food-depression.aspx
• Brain & Behaviour / Depression Symptoms Declined with Mediterranean-style Diet: https://bbrfoundation.org/brain-matters-discoveries/depression-symptoms-declined-with-mediterranean-style-diet
• SBS / A Healthy Diet Can Treat Major Depression: New Study Findings: http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/health/article/2017/02/02/healthy-diet-can-treat-major-depression-new-study-findings
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