Diet and Depressionchshkt
Can food affect mood?
According to research, yes! And for the estimated 300 million people around the world living with depression, managing their symptoms—including fatigue, moodiness, and feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem—may require an upgrade of what they put on their forks and plates.
Of course, nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. If you or a loved one struggle with depression, seek professional help. Research shows that a combination of psychotherapy and medication are among the most beneficial approaches to managing clinical depression.
But no matter what type of depression or mood dysfunction you’re dealing with, you’ll likely still benefit from making some improvements in your diet. Keep reading to learn more.
Exploring the Link Between Diet and Depression
Believe it or not, certain foods have been linked to an increased risk of depression. Not surprisingly, these tend to be the same foods linked with other chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
With this in mind, here are some foods and beverages to avoid if you struggle with symptoms of depression or other mood disorders. You might find that reducing your consumption of these items could alleviate your symptoms or make your other treatments more effective:
- Refined sugar
- Trans fats
- Processed meats
- Soda and sugary drinks
Why do these foods increase the risk of depression? Researchers believe it’s for many of the same reasons that they increase the risk for so many other health conditions. For one thing, sugar, trans fats, and the others from this list are known to increase inflammation, which is a known risk factor for depression. Additionally, these foods and beverages are known to be dense in calories but low in nutrients, which is problematic for two reasons:
First, consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain (especially if those calories come from food that promote inflammation), and obesity is now recognized as a risk factor for depression. Secondly, when we’re not consuming enough nutrients (including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants) our bodies and brains start to lack the raw material needed to support optimal function, repair, and growth.
Another possible explanation behind the diet and depression link is due to a phenomenon known as the brain-gut connection. The brain and gut (digestive tract) are neurologically connected and share a bi-directional influence on each other. In other words, dysfunction in a person’s mood and brain function can lead to dysfunction in the digestive tract and impair the ability of your gut to absorb nutrients—and the reverse is also true. Damage to the delicate gut lining and colony of friendly bacteria living inside the digestive tract may affect nerve and brain function.
Some research even indicates that people who are depressed are missing certain types of gut bacteria that are important for metabolizing and absorbing food. This is one reason why studies suggest that taking a high quality probiotic supplement may boost mood, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve cognitive performance.
The good news is that by adopting a diet that is friendly for your gut and body, you’ll be adopting a diet that’s friendly for your brain and mood at the same time—an elegant and simple strategy for optimizing your overall wellness and quality of life if there ever was one.
Foods to Eat When Living With Depression
So, what should we eat instead to help us manage the symptoms of depression or even reduce the risk of feeling depressed in the first place?
Multiple studies, including an October 2019 randomized controlled trial from PLOS One, suggest that eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and lean protein seems to be the most effective. Consuming the right amount of these nutrients can also supply you with the energy you need to support physical exercise, another proven way to naturally manage depression.
You may have heard of this style of eating as the Mediterranean diet (yup—the same diet’s that known to be excellent for your heart). But don’t let the labels constrain you. If all you focused on were eliminating refined foods and consuming more whole and unprocessed foods, especially plants, then you’d be well on your way to better brain health.
Interested in other products that can boost your brain and body health? Check out our full supply at iFlourish Labs.