Diet Plan For Depression – Depression is a common and treatable mental disorder for which pharmacologic treatments are preferred to nonpharmacologic treatments. Current research suggests that a high-fat diet can increase the risk of depression, whereas a diet rich in omega-3-fatty acids has the potential to help prevent or ameliorate depressive symptoms. The present article reviews the current literature regarding dietary interventions for the treatment of depression.
Depression and Diet
Unfortunately, there’s no specific diet that’s been proven to relieve depression. Still, while certain eating plans or foods may not ease your symptoms or put you instantly in a better mood, a healthy diet may help as part of your overall treatment.
Antioxidants Prevent Cell Damage
Our bodies normally make molecules called free radicals, but these can lead to cell damage, aging, and other problems.
Studies show that your brain is particularly at risk. Although there’s no way to stop free radicals completely, you 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
“Smart” Carbs Can Have a Calming Effect
Carbohydrates are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. Experts aren’t sure, but carb cravings sometimes may be related to low serotonin activity.
Choose your carbs wisely. Limit sugary foods and opt for smart or “complex” carbs (such as whole grains) rather than simple carbs (such as cakes and cookies). Fruits, vegetables, and legumes also have healthy carbs and fiber.
Protein-Rich Foods Boost Alertness
Foods like turkey, tuna, and chicken have an amino acid called tryptophan, which may help you make serotonin. Try to eat something with protein several times a day, especially when you need to clear your mind and boost your energy.
Good sources of healthy proteins include beans and peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk, poultry, soy products, and yogurt.
Try a Mediterranean Diet for B Vitamins
A Spanish study found that rates of depression tended to rise in men — especially smokers — as they got less folate. The same thing happened for women — especially those who smoked or didn’t exercise — but when they got less vitamin B12.
This wasn’t the first study to find a link between these vitamins and depression. Researchers aren’t sure which way the influence goes: do poor nutrient levels lead to depression, or does depression lead people to eat poorly?
In either case, you can get both of these B vitamins from foods in a Mediterranean diet. Legumes, nuts, many fruits, and dark green vegetables have folate. Vitamin B12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D receptors are located throughout the body, including your brain.
A recent national study found that the likelihood of having depression is higher in people with low levels of vitamin D. In another study, researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who had symptoms of depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to get better when the amount of vitamin D in their bodies went up as you’d expect it to during the spring and summer.
Researchers don’t know how much vitamin D is ideal, although too much can cause problems with calcium levels and how well your kidneys work.
Select Selenium-Rich Foods
Studies have reported a link between low selenium and poor moods. The recommended amount for selenium is 55 micrograms a day for adults.
Evidence isn’t clear that taking supplements can help. And it’s possible to get too much selenium. So it’s probably best to focus on foods:
- Beans and legumes
- Lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey)
- Low-fat dairy products
- Nuts and seeds (particularly brazil nuts – but do not eat these regularly or more than a couple at a time because they can cause selenium toxicity.
- Seafood (oysters, clams, sardines, crab, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish)
- Whole grains (whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)
Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Recently, scientists found that societies that don’t eat enough omega-3s may have higher rates of major depressive disorder. Other studies show that people who don’t often eat fish, a rich source of these fatty acids, are more likely to have depression. As a double benefit, Omega-3s are good for your heart.
Good sources of omega-3s, including alpha-linolenic acid, are:
- Fatty fish (anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines, shad, and tuna)
- Canola and soybean oils
- Nuts, especially walnuts
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
Your Weight and Lifestyle Matter, Too
People who are obese may be more likely to become depressed. And, according to several studies, people who are depressed are more likely to become obese. Researchers believe that may be the result of changes in your immune system and hormones that come with depression.
Fortunately, a nutritious diet including the foods above will help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. If you’re having a hard time, talk with your doctor.
Many people who are depressed also have problems with alcohol or drugs. Not only can they interfere with your mood, sleep, and motivation, they can also reduce the effectiveness of your depression medications.
Drinks and foods with caffeine can trigger anxiety and make it difficult to sleep at night. Cutting back or stopping caffeine after noon each day may help you get a better night’s sleep.
7 Foods To Eat Everyday To Beat Depression
1. Dark Leafy Greens: A Nutrient-Dense Inflammation Fighter
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. Kale. Swiss chard. Greens are the first of the G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, seeds) that Joel Fuhrman, MD, describes in his book The End of Dieting — 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.
2. Walnuts: Rich in Mood-Boosting Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Walnuts are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce depression symptoms. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry is especially interesting. The lead authors ask the question, Why is the vast part biological research — from genetics to psychopharmacology — concentrated on neurotransmitters, when the mammalian brain is approximately 80 percent fat (lipids), and there is a growing body of research demonstrating the critical role of lipids in brain functioning? What’s more, the shift in the Western diet away from these necessary omega-3 fatty acids over the last century parallels the large rise in psychiatric disorders in that time.
3. Avocado: Its Oleic Acid Gives You Brainpower
I eat a whole one every day in my salad for lunch. Avocados 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 (B9, B6, and B5), vitamin C, and vitamin E12. Finally, they are low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, containing about 11 grams each
4. Berries: Full of Cell-Repairing Antioxidants
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods available to us. I try to have a variety for breakfast in the morning. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, patients were treated for two years with antioxidants or placebos. After two years those who were treated with antioxidants had a significantly lower depression score. Antioxidants are like DNA repairmen. They go around fixing your cells and preventing them from getting cancer and other illnesses.
5. Mushrooms: Helpful Tools to Lower Blood Sugar
Here are two good reasons why mushrooms are good for your mental health. First, their chemical properties oppose insulin, which helps lower blood sugar levels, evening out your mood. They also are like a probiotic in that they promote healthy gut bacteria. And since the nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80 to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin — the critical neurotransmitter that keeps us sane — we can’t afford to not pay attention to our intestinal health.
6. Onions: Layered With Cancer-Fighting Allium
You won’t find this item on most lists of mood foods. However, it’s included in Dr. Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS because onions and all allium vegetables (garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and spring onions) have been associated with a decreased risk of several cancers.
“Eating onions and garlic frequently is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the digestive tract,” explains Fuhrman. “These vegetables also contain high concentrations of anti-inflammatory flavonoid antioxidants that contribute to their anticancer properties.” Again, if you consider the relationship between your digestive tract and your brain, it is understandable why a food that can prevent cancers of the gut would also benefit your mood.
7. 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.
Foods To Avoid As Part Of Depression Diet Plan
1. Sugary Foods
Avoiding refined sugar is another way to help your mood. But the crux to this story is that white sugar may make you feel more energized at first. But it won’t take long for you to crash.
Alcohol and drugs throw you off your sleep cycle and also cause mood swings and anxiety. So, if you are taking prescription medications, alcohol and drugs might cause side effects. They can even stop your medications from working.
You may feel short-term relief, but these substances usually make things worse.
Caffeine may be difficult for people to completely eliminate from diet. But, it is good to have caffeinated drinks in moderation, particularly when you are experiencing depression-like symptoms. Also, caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns and make you feel anxious, both of which will make things worse.
Eating healthy is not only important for your physical health but mental health too. Diet can provide a wide range of benefits that are not just confined to physical health. The right foods can play a great role in making you feel good or bad.
As we always say, health stands on 4 pillars-
- Mental Well-being
Thus, it is imperative to understand that all these 4 pillars are interrelated.