The Connection Between Food And Mental Health
Since we dont have all the answers, biologically, behind anxiety and depression, theres no clear reason why changing your diet can change your mood, Knüppel says.
But we do know a few things: Vitamins in the body help the function of enzymes that enable reactions such as the synthesis of , which plays an essential role in our happiness, she explains.
Meanwhile, too much sugar has been to decrease a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor , which is involved in the development of depression and anxiety.
Theres also emerging that suggests that our gut plays an important role in mental health.
The microorganisms in our gut can communicate with the brain and several systems that could play a role in depression and anxiety, and the composition of the gut microbiota is influenced by nutrition, Knüppel adds.
Michael Thase, MD, psychiatrist and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Pennsylvania, says there are a few other factors at play here.
When you treat depression with medication, the actual magical chemical ingredients matter maybe 15 percent. Its really the process of working with a doctor and finding the motivation to recognize the problem and take steps toward fixing it that counts for most of the good, Thase says.
You can get that much of the good in a non-medication intervention that includes diet, exercise, and talking to someone, he believes.
How Foods Help Fight Depression
The link between diet and depression is strong. Depression and nutrition go together like peanut butter and honey on whole grain bread. Nutrition is so vital for the brain that diet has become a key component of a plan to manage and overcome depression. There are a lot of foods that fight depression by either preventing it in the first place or improving and managing the symptoms of depression once it sets in.
The problem is that there are obstacles to healthy eating when you have depression. Depression makes decision-making and concentrating difficult, which interferes in meal planning and preparation. Its easy to fall into a rut of eating the same thing, which limits the range of nutrients you give your brain and body. When living with depression, people often skip meals or reach for processed, packaged foods because it seems like the easiest option.
To help you recover the mental health that you want, weve made this list of foods for fighting depression. It is broken down by nutrients that have been scientifically proven to help the brain recover from depression, and specific foods are listed in each category.
Foods To Eat For A Mood Boost
Spoiler alert: theres no superfood for mental wellbeing. Its about balance, variety, and eating from the five food groups.
Fruit and vegetables provide us with fibre to support a healthy gut environment. Fibre is a favourite food of the beneficial bacteria in our gut that play a range of roles in supporting our overall health. Fruit and vegetables also give us a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support brain health. We should aim for two serves of fruit and five serves of veg a day.
Wholegrains are another important source of fibre to feed our good gut bacteria, plus healthy fats for brain function, and slow carbohydrates for a steady source of brain fuel.
The protein in lean meats, fish and eggs provide building blocks of many brain chemicals that can influence our mood. Fish, especially oily fish, along with nuts, seeds and legumes are also a good source of those healthy fats and vitamins that support positive mental health and are known to protect against dementia and depression.
Dairy foods like yoghurt contain living beneficial bacteria that can boost our gut health, which influences our mood and mental wellbeing.
Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, prevents dehydration a common cause of headaches, tiredness, and brain fog that can affect our ability to concentrate. However, avoid quenching your thirst with drinks that are high in sugar, such as soft drinks.
Foods I Eat Every Day To Beat Depression
Adding the right produce, nuts, and seeds to my diet is my top strategy for good mental health.
Among all the strategies to safeguard my mental health, eating the right foods ties for first as the most important. Recently I did some substantial research on which foods promote sanity and which ones send an alarm to your limbic system and cause inflammation. I decided to eliminate , dairy, caffeine, and sugar from my diet. I also started eating fresh produce throughout my day and made the commitment to hit the grocery store a few times a week.
As a result, I feel more emotionally and less vulnerable to the impact of stress and drama on my mood.
Here are some of the foods I eat every day to feel good. They provide the nutrients my body needs to fight off inflammation in my brain, which leads to depression.
Foods To Avoid When You Have Depression
The foods we eat are so closely linked to our mental health that an entirely new fieldnutritional psychiatryhas emerged to study the effects of diet on conditions like depression. The current evidence concludes that what you eat can affect your likelihood of becoming depressed or worsen an existing depressive episode. Find out what you need to know about diet and depression, depression-causing foods, and depression foods to avoid.
Increase Your Intake Of B Vitamins
People with either low blood levels of the B-vitamin folic acid, or high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine , are both more likely to be depressed and less likely to get a positive result from anti-depressant drugs. In a study comparing the effects of giving an SSRI with either a placebo or with folic acid, 61% of patients improved on the placebo combination but 93% improved with the addition of folic acid. But how does folic acid itself, a cheap vitamin with no side-effects, compare to anti-depressants?
Three trials involving 247 people address this question. Two involving 151 people assessed the use of folic acid in addition to other treatment, and found that adding folic acid reduced HRS scores on average by a further 2.65 points. Thats not as good as the results with 5-HTP but as good, if not better than antidepressants. These studies also show that more patients treated with folate experienced a reduction in their HRS score of greater than 50% after ten weeks compared to those on anti-depressants.
Having a high level of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid found in the blood, doubles the odds of a woman developing depression. The ideal level is below 7, and certainly below 10. The average level is 10-11. Depression risk doubles with levels above 15. The higher your level the more likely folic acid will work for you.
Seeds: Small But Mighty Sources Of Omega
When Im close to reaching for potato chips or any kind of comfort food, I allow myself a few handfuls of sunflower seeds or any other kind of seed I can find in our kitchen. Seeds are the last food on Fuhrmans G-BOMBS list.
Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are especially good for your mood because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fuhrman writes, Not only do seeds add their own spectrum of unique disease-fighting substances to the dietary landscape, but the fat in seeds increases the absorption of protective nutrients in vegetables eaten at the same meal.
Antioxidants Prevent Cell Damage
Our bodies normallyÂ makeÂ molecules called free radicals, but these can lead to cell damage, aging, and other problems.
Studies show that yourÂ is particularly at risk. Although there’s no way to stop free radicals completely, youÂ can be able to lessen their destructive effect by eating foods rich in antioxidants, including:
- Beta-carotene: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato
- Vitamin C: blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato
- Vitamin E: margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ
Spaghetti With Steamed Mussels
Fights: Depression and anxiety
A balanced meal that includes carbs, protein, and fat can stop the hangry in its tracks. Mussels and most types of shellfish are loaded with vitamin B-12, which is important for a good mood. Brouwer-Brolsma EM, et al. . Dietary sources of vitamin B-12 and their association with vitamin B-12 status markers in healthy older adults in the B-PROOF Study.
For maximum brain benefits, make this dish with whole-wheat pasta and extra-virgin olive oil.
Apples: Ripe With Antioxidants And Fiber
An apple a day could if eaten with the rest of these foods keep the away, at least for stretches of time. Like berries, apples are high in antioxidants, which can help to prevent and repair oxidation damage and inflammation on the cellular level. They are also full of soluble fiber, which balances blood sugar swings. A snack I have grown to love is almond butter on apple slices. I get my omega-3 fatty acid along with some fiber.
Important: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.
Pump Up On Probiotics
Probiotics are best known for their role in digestive health, but emerging research suggests that bacteria in the gut sends and receives signals to the brain . In a review published in Annals of General Psychiatry in 2017, researchers analyzed 10 previously published studies and found that the majority of studies found positive effects of probiotics on depression symptoms. While promising, the study’s authors noted a wide variation in probiotic strain, dose, and treatment duration, and that further studies were needed to test efficacy.
Consumption of a probiotic supplement was found to improve both gut symptoms and depression in people with irritable bowel syndrome , according to a study published in Gastroenterology in 2017. Participants took either a probiotic supplement or a placebo daily for 10 weeks.
After six weeks, 64 percent of those taking the probiotic had decreased depression symptoms, compared to 32 percent of those taking the placebo. What’s more, the improvement in depression symptoms was associated with changes in the activity in brain areas involved in mood.
Foods That Help With Depression
Whatever your dietary preferences, there are a variety of options that can provide mood-boosting benefits. This isn’t to say that you need to overhaul your eating habits and only consume these foods, but being conscious of which foods impact your mood can help you better manage symptoms of depression.
Foods To Eat And Avoid: Diet Strategies For Depression
If you feel depressed due to loneliness, visiting one of the best dating sites 2021 may seem like an activity that’s way more fun than being miserable. While depression can often make you feel like you’re in deep water, there are millions of people suffering from depression around the globe. Regardless of what’s causing your depression, there are certain foods you should eat or avoid in your diet while battling this disease.
There is solid proof that changing the diet, even while medication remains the same, can break down the cycle of depression and anxiety. If you are suffering from depression, it is an important first step to take charge and start with a good diet for depression.
Foods That Fight Depression: Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates provide fuel and energy. Carbs boost mood, too. Examples of good carbohydrates for depression are
- Whole grains
Avoid refined foods like white flour, simple sugars, and foods like breads and pastas made from such ingredients. Processed carbohydrates lack nutrients, plus they are burned too quickly by the body so that we have an energy spike followed by a crash. The brain operates by the principle slow and steady wins the race. Try using natural and healthy foods for depression and you should notice a difference in your mood.
Foods To Eat To Fight Depression
Feeling depressed once in a while is normal when it is related to loss, lifes struggles or an injured self-esteem.
However, when intense sadness and feelings of being helpless, hopeless and worthless become a part of your life and prevent you from functioning normally, you may be suffering from clinical depression, a common but serious mood disorder.
Depression can cause severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression affects one in 10 Americans.
Dealing with depression is not easy for the person as well as their family members and friends. However, there is no need to suffer in silence. You can turn to different therapies, medications, meditation, physical exercise and even diet to help combat the condition.
Many foods have been scientifically proven to lift a persons mood, and you should include them in your diet to help ease your depression in a safe and natural manner. Foods containing nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, vitamin D or B vitamins, have a direct impact on mood.
These foods even boost the effectiveness of antidepressants and also help prevent relapses of depression in the long run.
Here are top 10 foods to eat to fight depression.
Trail Mix With Nuts And Dark Chocolate
This crunchy combo helps stabilize your blood sugar, preventing a sugar crash and a major case of the grumpies.
Plus, nuts like walnuts are high in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood . Yilmaz C, et al. . Determination of serotonin in nuts and nut containing products by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. DOI:
And the dark chocolate may prevent sluggishness with high levels of theobromine, a stimulant similar to caffeine. It may take only a few bites of the sweet stuff to boost your spirits.
Full Fat Greek Yogurt With Honey And Granola
This positivity parfait packs a few happy ingredients. Friendly bacteria called probiotics may ease depression, making Greek yogurt a tasty way to fight the blues. Goh KK, et al. . Effect of probiotics on depressive symptoms: A meta-analysis of human studies. DOI:
Honey adds a spoonful of sweetness, with compounds that may fight depression, in part by reducing inflammation in your brain. Ali AM, et al. . Bee honey as a potentially effective treatment for depression: A review of clinical and preclinical findings. DOI:
How Diet Affects Depression
The link between diet and depression is quite simple. Many researchers believe it is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, namely serotonin, and dopamine, which are directly responsible for mood regulation.
Serotonin helps regulate moods giving you a sense of happiness and wellbeing, while dopamine helps motivate you to do things, eat certain foods or engage in certain activities. When there is an imbalance, it can lead to negative emotions such as depression.
Therefore, the question is, what is the best diet for depression?
A good diet for depression will incorporate foods that reduce the symptoms and promote proper mental health. Studies show that people who maintain a proper balance in their diet are 32% less likely to suffer from depression than those who eat an unhealthy diet.
Avocado: Its Oleic Acid Gives You Brainpower
I eat a whole one every day in my salad for lunch. are power foods because, again, they contain healthy fat that your brain needs in order to run smoothly. Three-fourths of the calories of an avocado are from fat, mostly monounsaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid. An average avocado also contains 4 grams of protein, higher than other fruits, and is filled with vitamin K, different kinds of vitamin B , vitamin C, and vitamin E12. Finally, they are low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, containing about 11 grams each.
The Connection Between Diet And Depression
There are many different factors that contribute to depression. Some are out of your control, like genetics or a traumatic life event. But the foods you choose to eat can also play a role.
Because food can influence certain chemicals in the brain, like serotonin, that help regulate mood. An estimated 95 percent of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. So, it makes sense that what you eat may influence mood.
For example, a 2014 review found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains were 16 percent less likely to experience depression compared to people who followed a typical high-carbohydrate Western diet.
The Mediterranean diet is thought to be effective against battling depression because it’s rich in anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens and fish, while also cutting down on processed foods that can cause inflammation.
Inflammation is known to contribute to a number of diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers like liver and cervix. How strongly inflammation contributes to depression is still unclear. But some studies, like the 2014 review, suggest that keeping inflammation at bay through your diet may help prevent depression.
Tomatoes: Packed With Depression Fighters
I try to eat at least six baby tomatoes in my salad each day for lunch because tomatoes contain lots of folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid, both of which are good for fighting depression. According to research published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, many studies show an elevated incidence of folate deficiency in patients with depression. In most of the studies, about one-third of depression patients were deficient in folate.
Folic acid can prevent an excess of homocysteine which restricts the production of important neurotransmitters like serotonin, , and from forming in the body. Alpha-lipoic acid keeps coming up as I read more about nutrition and the brain, so I have begun to take it as a , as well. It helps the body convert glucose into energy, and therefore stabilizes mood.
Dark Leafy Greens: A Nutrient
If you were to choose the healthiest food of all, the most nutrient-dense item available to us to eat, it would be dark, leafy greens, no contest. Spinach. . Swiss chard. Greens are the first of the G-BOMBS that Joel Fuhrman, MD, describes in his book the foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anticancer effects.
These foods help prevent the cancerous transformation of normal cells and keep the body armed and ready to attack any precancerous or cancerous cells that may arise, he writes. Leafy greens fight against all kinds of inflammation, and according to a study published in March 2015 in JAMA Psychiatry, severe depression has been linked with brain inflammation. Leafy greens are especially important because they contain oodles of vitamins A, C, E, and K, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Beans: Satisfyingly High In Mood
Beans, beans, good for the heart. The more you eat, the more you … smile. They make the G-BOMB list because they can act as anti-diabetes and weight-loss foods. They are good for my mood because my body digests them slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar levels. Any food that assists me in evening out my blood sugar levels is my friend. They are the one starch that I allow myself, so on top of a salad, they help mitigate my craving for bread and other processed grains.
Eat Your Way Out Of Depression
I always believe that prescription drugs should always be the last resort in treating depression and anxiety. Most drugs only provide temporary relief and prescribers often worried about side effects, and not without a good reason.
Even if youre on a prescription, eating well is a good habit that will hasten your path to recovery and boost your resistance for relapse. I hope this mega list of foods for depression and anxiety could help you along the way.
Feel free to if you think it could be of benefit to your friends and family as well.
Also, read how I overcome my social anxiety disorder .
Have you tried any brain food that I left out on the list? Or have any of the foods listed helped you in dealing with depression and anxiety. Feel free to share your thoughts here.
Good Mood Foods To Help Fight Depression Stress And More
Stress, , and are complex experiences caused by a variety of factors, including lifestyle, brain chemistry, a history of trauma, and health. Research increasingly points to the role nutrition plays in sound emotional health. While eating a bowl of soy beans and loading up on eggs wont cure depression, it can certainly help. By pairing the right diet with healthy therapy andif necessary, you can maximize your chances of quickly feeling better.
The Worst Beverages For Depression
So often when people think of nutrition, they think food. Beverages tend to be dismissed as things that can help or harm our physical and mental health. However, just because theyre liquid doesnt mean they dont affect us. These beverages have been shown to contribute to or worsen depression:
- Fruit juice
Foods That Can Help With Depression
1: Omega Three Fatty Acids
The best diet for depression and weight loss is to eat food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that Omega-3s are effective in treating depression and boosting mental health. Omega-3s are also anti-inflammatory, which has been shown to improve blood circulation in the brain and reduce inflammation in many body parts. Depression is hard to cope with and treat, but you can get better fast if you incorporate the right foods into your diet.
Good sources to get Omega-three fatty acid foods include
- fish like Mackerel, cod liver, and salmon
- nuts and grains
Probiotics are organisms that promote a healthy immune system. Studies indicate that incorporating good bacteria in the diet can prevent depression and ease symptoms of mental illness. They also show that people with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders.
Choosing a diet with foods that promote good microorganisms helps combat these illnesses. Fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir increase gut bacteria levels and help improve overall health and wellbeing.
3: Foods Rich in Selenium
Selenium is a mineral that’s not only touted as having remarkable antioxidant properties but also helps lower the risk of developing depression. Including selenium in your diet may aid in reducing depressive-like symptoms and help you recover more quickly from depression. The best way to get enough selenium in your diet is through foods like
The Right Kind Of Diet May Give The Brain More Of What It Needs To Avoid Depression Or Even To Treat It Once Its Begun
Youre feeling depressed. What have you been eating?
Psychiatrists and therapists dont often ask this question. But a growing body of research over the past decade shows that a healthy diethigh in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and unprocessed lean red meatcan prevent depression. And an unhealthy diethigh in processed and refined foodsincreases the risk for the disease in everyone, including children and teens.
Now recent studies show that a healthy diet may not only prevent depression, but could effectively treat it once its started.
Researchers, led by epidemiologist Felice Jacka of Australias Deakin University, looked at whether improving the diets of people with major depression would help improve their mood. They chose 67 people with depression for the study, some of whom were already being treated with antidepressants, some with psychotherapy, and some with both. Half of these people were given nutritional counseling from a dietitian, who helped them eat healthier. Half were given one-on-one social supportthey were paired with someone to chat or play cards withwhich is known to help people with depression.
Want To Beat Depression For Yourself Or A Friend
Dr. William Nathan Upshaw is the Medical Director of NeuroSpa TMS®. Since receiving training from the inventor of TMS Therapy nearly a decade ago, Dr. Upshaw has been a pioneer, champion and outspoken advocate of TMS Therapy. Dr. Upshaws holistic experience in the field has transformed him into Floridas leading advocate for widespread accessibility to TMS Therapy.
Can you eat to beat depression? Thats a common question with a complex answer. To cut right to it, no, theres no type of food or combination of foods that can cure depression permanently. However, there is without a doubt a significant link between diet and depression.
Theres truly not one specific best diet plan for depression thats perfect for everyone. The best thing patients with depression can do is to follow a healthy diet that suits each individual in their own way. What is known, however, is that a diet high in processed foods and refined sugars is hard on the body and contributes to many illnesses. On the other side of things, foods high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates have the best nutrients for fighting depression.
Vegans and vegetarians arent exempt from needing protein, but our next two categories have them covered.
Nuts. Walnuts support good brain health as theyre rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts like brazil nuts, hazelnuts and are also good sources of protein and omega-3 fats.
Foods That Worsen Depression
- High fructose corn syrup