Diet and Depression
Diet and Depression — The First 3 of 7 Foods/Nutrients that May Help Prevent Depression
Having struggled with chronic depression for many years and having “disappeared” it from my life with food and supplements, I want to share with you some suggestions that may help your mood be brighter. We truly are what we eat, and nutrition experts and researchers have found that diet and depression are often connected and what we eat can have either a positive or a negative impact on our mood. Here are 7 foods that have been shown to help alleviate depression:
Chocolate is arguably one of the most popular “comfort snacks” that people indulge in after having a bad day. However, there is actual scientific evidence which suggests eating chocolate in moderation can actually make you feel better. One study done in the Netherlands found that men between 64 and 85 years of age who regularly consumed cocoa experienced lower blood pressure than those who did not. Another reason chocolate has been found to have a calming effect is how its nutrients interact with the brain. Dark chocolate triggers release of endorphins, the neuropeptides that reduce stress and induce feelings of euphoria. As a result, indulging in moderate amounts of chocolate can be a great way to boost your mood and still stay on track with your target weight goals. Be sure to eat chocolate that is at least 60% cocoa; 70% is even better. Even dark chocolate can have more sugar than cocoa, so it’s important to read the label!
Berries are known for their high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidant foods provide a wide range of health benefits, one of which is promoting a better sense of well-being. The Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine published a study which documented treatment of patients with antioxidants and placebos over a period of two years. Patients treated with antioxidants had lower depression scores than those in the placebo group.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are not only rich in antioxidants but also good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to be helpful in reducing levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Including berries in your diet can help you stay calm or at least may help prevent stress from advancing into full-blown depression.
#3: Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin, the mood-lifting neurotransmitter produced in our brains. If you eat ample amounts of carbs, this helps to induce a sense of contentment throughout the day. Sugary and processed foods are not good sources of carbohydrates as they are not complex. They cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, which in turn can cause mood swings. Instead, opt for complex carbs from whole grains like quinoa and black or brown rice, fruits and vegetables, which metabolize at a slower rate and keep blood sugar balanced. Complex carbohydrates also provide a steady release of glucose for energy conversion, which in turn helps combat fatigue, one of the common symptoms of depression.
These first three suggestions will get you started understanding diet and depression, and I’ll have another four for you in Part 2 of 7 Foods/Nutrients that May Help Prevent Depression.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant