Fat Intake and Depression…is there a link?

Posted on January 25, 2016 by Cheryl Major

Is there a connection between fat intake and depression? I often tell people I cured myself of decades of depression and lost 20 pounds by changing how I eat.

One woman’s response was, “if I lost 20 pounds, I wouldn’t be depressed either!”

I thought that was pretty funny, but had to tell her it went beyond just being psyched I lost unwanted weight. It felt so good to no longer live with depression; to struggle on a daily basis with the debilitating dark mood and sadness.

The low fat/fat free craze of years ago has produced a lot of brain issues that we’re dealing with today. Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are on the rise, but my focus continues to be on depression.

Did you know more than 20% of women in this country over the age of 40 are on some kind of anti-depressant? It’s a frightening statistic. The side effects of the drugs conventional medicine prescribes to treat depression are many and include weight gain among others.

Did you also know that it is now being discovered there is a link between eating the wrong fats and depression? I think that’s very empowering for all of us who have dealt with or still deal with depression.

Fats are not all bad. In fact, they are necessary for healthy bodies and healthy brains. Our brain is approximately 60% fat! Gives new meaning to the term “fat head”, but I digress…

The key is eating the right kind of fats in the right balance and in the right amount. Once again, our western diet makes this a challenge. It’s critical that you consume mono and polyunsatured fat to support a healthy brain and to ward off depression because polyunsaturated fats are abundant in your brain. Our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, so we must get them from the food we eat.

In addition, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids must be in balance, but our American diet tends to be heavy in omega-6. The challenge is to be certain you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids to balance it out. Where do you get your omega-3s?

Wild salmon (NOT farmed — never eat any farmed fish!), olive oil, avocados, avocado oil and nuts are good ways to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Do not use Canola Oil!! I think my head will explode if I hear one more “health profession” tout the merits of canola oil. Canola oil is largely GMO thanks to a strain developed by Monsanto that comprises the bulk of the canola grown now.

If you eat a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6, you will also lessen the inflammation in your body. Inflammation is now being linked with mood and depression. Gary L. Wenk, Ph.D. reported that “…a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids also significantly changes the size of brain regions that are critical for controlling mood”. But…don’t load up on omega-3s alone thinking that will cure your depression. You must eat a balanced diet to achieve optimal health in both body and brain.

Bottom line: cut back or cut out trans fats (a.k.a. partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fat) and saturated fats and, increase your healthy fat intake. You’ll have a better chance of controlling depression if you feed your head better fuel!

Helping you achieve Major Wellness in your life!

Cheryl A Major, CNWC

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