Diet and Depression - Discussion

The link between nutrition, diet and depression is an often underestimated one. In fact, diet plays an extremely important role in preventing depression and helping people with the condition.

Many people suffering from depression have found relief or recovered after changing their diet, which includes adding more including beneficial foods, and removing harmful foods from their daily meals.

Carbohydrates and Sugar

One must note that most people often reach out for food when they are stressed and feeling low; this is mainly because the mind is fatigued and craves glucose and carbohydrates have been found to increase the serotonin levels in the brain.

Therefore, once we intake food rich with carbohydrates, we experience a certain amount of relief, especially because an increase in serotonin levels decreases depressive symptoms. Hence, if it helps to snack on a little carbohydrate-rich diet once in a while, it is not a bad idea, but one must be careful not to overindulge or do this frequently.

There is another way in which diet and depression are linked - poor diets can cause the condition. People who are trying to lose weight and decide to go on carbohydrate-free diets should be careful because there is a good chance that in the process they might start feeling blue, low, and depressed.

Teenagers, in their eagerness to lose weight in a hurry, often attempt such foolish diets and end up paying a huge price for it. Therefore, it is important to consider all the pros and cons before going on crash diets that cause more harm than good.

Suggestions and Tips for a Healthy Diet

One of the main symptoms of depression is loss of appetite or in some cases increase in appetite. Both ways are harmful to the person concerned and it is important to find moderation. Indeed, stick to a healthy diet and depression can be better kept at bay or coped with. Here are a few tips regarding healthy diets for prevention or for people suffering from depression:

  • Antioxidants - Increase the intake of antioxidants in the daily diet. Antioxidants are extremely important nutrients that fight and destroy free radicals in the human body. Free radicals are substances that are released in the human body as a result of various chemical processes and these free radicals are responsible for causing various disease conditions like cancers, etc. Antioxidants present in various vitamins like C, E, etc, help destroy these free radicals and decrease the risk of various disease conditions.

    Some of the sources high in antioxidants are beta carotene-rich foods like apricots, carrots, peaches, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and pumpkins. Other sources of antioxidants are vitamin C rich foods like broccoli, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, blueberries, and grapefruit. Similarly, vitamin E rich foods that are an equally rich source of antioxidants are wheat germ, seeds, unrefined vegetable oils, nuts, etc. Load up on an antioxidant rich diet and depression as well as other diseases can be kept away.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids - These essential fatty acids are another critical link between diet and depression. It has been scientifically proven that people with omega 3 fatty acid deficiency are a higher risk of experiencing depression as compared to people who intake healthy amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish, fish oil, and other fish products. Therefore, including seafood with a healthy portion of fish in the diet will help decrease the risk of depression and reduce depressive symptoms in people going through the condition.

    Some of the fishes that are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acid are mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna. In addition to fish, fish oil, flax seeds and nuts like walnuts are also a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. For people who are strictly vegetarian, flaxseed oil, soybean oil, green leafy vegetables, and canola oil are an equally good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are critically important, and it must be reiterated that they are a core link between diet and depression.

  • Folic Acid - Folic acid is another part of the diet and depression link, as deficiency of this nutrient has been associated with depression and dementia in several people. Folic acid is also referred to as folate, and it is a vitamin B-complex which helps in the development of red blood cells; these cells carry oxygen around the body. A drop in the level of folic acid causes several physiological conditions and has also been found to contribute to mood disorders. A severe decrease in folic acid levels can lead to Alzheimer¬ís disease and other forms of dementia. Therefore, it is important to ensure adequate amounts of folic acid intake in one's regular diet.

    Some rich sources of folate include spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, lentils, romaine lettuce, asparagus, beets, cauliflower, and parsley. In addition, papaya, black beans, and string beans are extremely good sources of folic acid, too, and they can help bolster the diet and depression connection.

  • Vitamin D. It is important to ensure that your body has sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Studies have indicated that vitamin D helps increase the level of serotonin in the human brain. Serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters which are responsible for mental health and a drop in serotonin levels is indicative of depression. Therefore, as often as it is possible, one must try and expose oneself to the early morning or evening sunlight.

The link between diet and depression prevention or recovery is a powerful one. Therefore, it is important to stick to a balanced diet that is rich in all of the above nutrients in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. In addition, undertaking a regular exercise program and drinking plenty of water on a daily basis help nurture the body and flush toxins out from it.

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