The link between nutrition and depression baffles many doctors and mental health experts. But if you stop a moment to think about it, you’ll realize something…
All the anti-depressants and talk therapy in the world won’t do any good if your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs to function properly.
Nutrition and Depression: What’s the Link?
Your brain thrives on foods that provide vitamins, minerals and other compounds that positively affect brain chemistry.
Eating foods with high nutrient value fights free radicals-tiny molecules that damage body tissue, including the brain. Our bodies make free radicals as a result of every day normal functions.
Nutrition and Depression: Eat This, Not That
Eat Plenty of Antioxidants
As far as nutrition is concerned, antioxidants should be your first line of defense in your battle against depression.
Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E are prime fighters against free radical damage.
Best antioxidant-rich foods are those with a high ORAC score. This simply measures a food’s ability to fight free radicals.
Get these superfoods the next time you go grocery shopping:
ORAC Score: 14,000
ORAC Score: 17,000
ORAC Score: 14,000
ORAC Score: 8,400
ORAC Score: 9,500
ORAC Score: 5,300
Load Up on Lean Proteins
Proteins are super important for helping the brain produce the mood-boosting chemical serotonin.
If you choose meat as a protein source make sure it’s grass-fed and raised without antibiotics and growth hormones. This includes dairy and eggs.
Why is grass fed so special?
Grass-fed animal products are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a proven mood-boosting compound. In an Australian study, women who ate grass-fed beef had lower levels of depression due to the rich omega-3 fatty acid content.
Buy organic whenever you can, especially produce. It’s more expensive, but the rewards are well worth the effort and expense. Why buy organic?
Non-organic produce has hundreds of chemical pesticides that may contribute to depression.
A study involving lab mice found that exposure to pesticides alters brain cells and neurotransmitters.
Eat Smart Carbs
When it comes to carbs, it’s best to steer clear of simple carbohydrates i.e. foods containing white flour and sugar. Such foods are linked to weight gain, oxidative stress, obesity, and blood sugar issues.
Instead, try eating more complex carbs like brown rice, whole grain pasta, and bread, beans, and legumes. These foods are loaded with fiber and protein that help keep blood sugar and mood stable.
Eat Lots of Fat
Like carbohydrates, fat has gotten a bad rap. It’s not the healthy fats that cause problems. It’s the bad ones like trans fats and saturated fats that are the troublemakers.
And no wonder, these fats are linked to obesity, weight gain, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.
Stick with good fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats.
And especially omega 3 fats.
Studies show that people who eat diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to be depressed.
You can get omega 3 fats from fish oil supplements. Since fish contains mercury, look for fish oil products that are free of mercury. The product should say mercury free on the label. If it doesn’t, find a brand that does!
Antidepressants and talk therapy may have a place in treating your depression. But incorporating a nutrient-dense diet can only serve to maximize any positive result!
But what about the stuff you shouldn’t eat?
I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ll just keep it simple. As much as you can, try to avoid consuming…
Artificial sweeteners, processed foods and basically anything containing complex scientific sounding ingredients you’ll need an encyclopedia to decode.
It’s also a good idea to avoid processed foods which usually contain a lot of sugar, salt, and rancid fats like trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol.
Nutrition and Depression: Soak Up That Sunshine
Sunshine doesn’t exactly fall under the category of nutrition. But don’t you feel better after soaking up some rays?
I know I do.
While we can’t live on rays of sunshine, vitamin D is still crucial for good mood. But if you can’t get outdoors for a good twenty minutes a day of sunshine, you can still get your daily dose of vitamin D in supplement form.
When shopping for vitamins make sure the label says vitamin D3, which is a natural form of vitamin D.
You might consider getting a light box during the winter months.
References For Grass Fed Beef: