Diet and Depression| Eating Natural Antidepressants Daily

Diet and depression are related for what we eat in some way or the other affects our mood.If you are eating natural antidepressants daily in your food, your mind is getting that extra push everyday to overcome depression!

Food is the fuel of our body. As the fuel and engine oil affects the performance of a vehicle, the food we consume effects our body processes.

The current research trends also support the fact that consumption of certain foods help in fighting and evening preventing depression.

In Nutshell| Diet and Depression

✓Take fish at least 1-2 times per week.

✓Include green leafy vegetables in your diet.Do not overcook vegetables as it destroys the folic acid in them.

✓Consume folic acid in your diet.You can get folate (folic acid) in green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, asparagus and oranges (also fresh orange juice not processed as processing of food destroys the folic acid in it.) In the US, flour, bread, rice and pasta are fortified with folic acid.

✓Consume Vitamin B12 in your diet. You can get vitamin B 12 in eggs, cheese, poultry, meat, fish and milk.

✓Vitamin deficiencies are associated with depression. You may need vitamin supplements.

✓Consume omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found to be beneficial in depression and they are not produced in the human body. You have to take them in your diet or supplements. Fish/Fish oil is a good source of these fatty acids.

✓Include fresh fruits in your diet regularly.

✓Include cereals and legumes in your meals.

✓Use cooking oil that has high content of omega 3 fatty acids NOT omega 6 fatty acids.

! Avoid fast foods and processed bakery products (pizza, hamburgers, pastries) they have negative effect on mood.

Diet as a Part of the Overall Plan

These days extensive research is going on to find the relationship between diet and depression. In doing so researchers have found that people that consume certain type of food have less depression prevalence in their communities and also certain food elements help in fighting depression.

Healthy diet which is full of natural antidepressants can definitely be an add on therapy in treating depression but you should not ONLY depend on the diet for fighting depression. It should be a component of the overall scheme you are following for overcoming or even preventing depression.

Based on the research I have the following suggestions for you. The food items listed below have been found to play their role in overcoming depression. If you include them in your diet, you will benefit from them in the long term.

Mediterranean Diet and Depression

People living in the Mediterranean region live longer and have less depression in their life, why? Because of the diet they consume and the way they live. They prefer to stay close to the nature.

In the same Mediterranean areas, people who adopted the urban and sedentary lifestyle with poor eating habits had higher rates of depression. So we can conclude from this comparison that it is the diet and the lifestyle which protects them against depression and not the geographical location.

At the moment research may not be able to make out the cause- effect relationship between different diet ingredients but the overall influence diet can have is being established. So what is that diet the Mediterranean people are taking? The Mediterranean diet which helps in fighting and even preventing depression has the following components:

  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Legumes(soybean, pea, sweet pea, peanuts and others) and
  • Cereals

The good thing is that you need not be in the Mediterranean to follow this diet! Together these food items when taken as part of a balanced diet exert positive effect on mental health and are protective against development of depression, according to the Spanish, SUN cohort study.

What about the Meat in the diet and Depression?

You may be wandering what about the meat and meat products? The results on the effect of meat or in other words protein rich diet (meat is a good source of proteins) on mood are conflicting.

So as a part of balanced diet meat should be in your meal plan but no conclusive comments can be given at the moment. However, low protein diet has proven beneficial in certain situations.

Low protein diet and depression in type 2 diabetics

Study conducted in type 2 diabetes patients who were also suffering from renal failure found that low protein diet (0.8g/kg per day for 6 days a week) significantly decreased the symptoms of depression in these patients.

In another study effects of low protein diet were studied for 30 months in the patients of type 2 diabetes and end stage renal disease and it was concluded that low protein diet decreased the symptoms of depression in these patients and improved the quality of life.

Fish in the Diet and Depression

Fish has omega three fatty acids and consumption of fish is also associated with decrease prevalence of depression as suggested by the data from different parts of the world.

People who consume fish regularly in their diet live longer and have decreased chances of having depression.

Long term fish intake also helps the elderly in fighting depression as decreased depression prevalence was found in older people of Greece, Cyprus and neighboring islands in a recent study. Read more on the role of fish oil in depression.

Consume Folate in your Diet

Consumption of folate has been associated with decreased incidence of depression.

A recent study conducted in Japanese women of reproductive age found that women whose intake of folate was more than the RDA( Recommended daily allowance, 240 μg per day) had decreased prevalence of depression.

Numerous other studies have shown that folic acid intake helps not only in fighting depression but it also enhances the response of the individuals to the antidepressant therapy. Read more on the role of folate in depression.

Consume Vitamin B in your Diet

Low levels of B vitamins have been found in patients of depression particularly the vitamin B 12. You must ensure adequate intake of B vitamins in your diet. More on vitamins and depression.

Avoid Eating Junk Food Often

The relationship between the consumption of fast food( pizzas, hamburgers and sausages) and bakery items (like doughnuts, muffins and croissants) and the development of depression is studied in the SUN project, Spain.

The study enrolled 8964 people and a follow up of 6.2 years was done. It is concluded that the consumption of fast food and bakery items has hazardous effects on risk of depression.

Therefore, the more you eat junk food, the more you spoil your eating habits and put yourself at increased risk of getting depression. I am not saying to completely stop eating fast food but you need to keep an eye on your eating habits and strike the balance.

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