Can food fight depression?
Depression is a common mood disorder that causes negative thoughts, behaviors and can sometimes lead to feelings of hopelessness.
According to the CDC, 7.6 percent of Americans age 12 and over suffer from depression. Although depression is generally not a preventable illness, certain diet and lifestyle changes can help reduce depression symptoms.
The link between diet and depression is noted in a study performed by BioMed Central Medicine. The study measured a group of people with moderate to severe depression and noticed improved mood among those who switched to a healthful diet.
Helpful Foods and Nutrients to Combat Depression
Changing your diet can be a difficult task, but making changes that you know could help lessen your symptoms of depression can be a great incentive.
“Try to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids to decrease symptoms of depression,” Dr. Rowles recommends. “These healthy fats are found in many cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna, as well as in nuts and seeds. Eating these types of foods may increase the amount of healthy fats available to the brain, therefore keeping it working at its optimal level, and can ultimately reduce the risk of mood disorders.”
Making sure that you get an appropriate amount of protein should be a key part of everyone’s diet, but Dr. Rowles notes that it may be more helpful for people suffering from depression.
He explains, “Protein-rich foods such as turkey, eggs and chickpeas have higher levels of the amino-acid, tryptophan, which is essential to form serotonin. Having a lack of serotonin in your diet has been linked to depression, so eating foods that have tryptophan can relieve many of the symptoms.”
A diet lacking in vitamin D is associated with depression as well as many other mood disorders. “Vitamin D can easily be obtained by exposing your body to the sun, but you can also find supplements on the market to boost your levels of vitamin D,” Dr. Rowles says. “It is crucial to get enough vitamin D in order to fight depression. You can also incorporate vitamin D into your diet by eating more fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon.”
Foods to Avoid
There are also certain foods that a person with depression should avoid in order to benefit their health.
Dr. Rowles recommends staying away from unhealthy foods such as those with high calorie levels, refined sugars and processed oils because they can only worsen indications of depression. These can cause an imbalance in the body that can deplete energy and worsen signs of depression. In addition, stimulants like caffeine are important to avoid, especially if you experience anxiety brought on by depression, as it may trigger negative symptoms.
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About the Author
Kristen Bainbridge, health enews contributor, is the marketing and public affairs intern for Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL. Kristen is a senior Marketing major and Public Relations minor at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio., and will graduate in the spring of 2018. During the school year, Kristen will be the Marketing and Communications intern in Xavier’s Career Development Office. In her free time, Kristen loves dancing, traveling, and cheering on the Xavier basketball team. Go Musketeers!