Food plays a very important role in our physical health, as well as our mental and emotional health. When someone is struggling with depression, it can feel a bit overwhelming to think about eating the right foods. However, making some small changes in your diet may help to decrease your symptoms and have a positive effect on your daily life.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and tuna are great choices to help fight depression. They are rich sources of omega-3 fats, which are important in brain health and may be involved in the functioning of serotonin, a neurotransmitter important in the regulation of mood.
Nuts such as cashews, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are helpful in supplementing omega-3 fats, but walnuts are the top choice in this category. Walnuts are known to support overall brain health, being one of the highest plant-based sources of omega-3 and a great source of protein to help keep blood sugar levels at a healthy balance.
A study even found that depression scores were 26% lower with people who consumed about 1/4 cup of walnuts per day.
Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, both of which help to maintain stable and consistent blood sugar levels. They help minimize the blood sugar spikes and dips that can affect your mood, and are great sources of folate. Folate is a B vitamin that helps the body produce blood cells, DNA and RNA, and metabolize proteins.
Chicken and turkey are great sources of lean protein that help to stabilize blood sugar levels, keeping your mood well-balanced during the day. Turkey and chicken are known to provide high amounts of tryptophan which helps create serotonin, which assists us in maintaining healthy sleep and a balanced mood.
Eating vegetables is important for everyone, but is great help if you struggle with depression. One reason is that people with depression have been found to have a lower dietary intake of folate compared to those without depression.
Folate, fiber, and other nutrients make vegetables, especially the darker leafy greens, a perfect choice when looking for foods to help improve and stabilize mood.
It is just as important to know what not to eat when suffering from depression. Unfortunately, many of those foods are what people turn to when they’re having a rough day. Most things in moderation won’t harm you, but being aware of the negative impacts certain foods can have on your mental health can help you make better food choices.
Sugar will not always be labeled simply as “sugar” on an ingredient list. Be on the lookout for added sugar by searching for these ingredients on the nutrition label:
– Corn syrup
– High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Caffeine can help you start your day with a boost, but it can also lead to crashes later in the day, which will leave you feeling as though you need more to regain energy. An alternative to coffee and energy drinks is green tea. In addition to antioxidant benefits, green tea is also provides theanine, an amino acid that offers an anti-stress benefit that can be helpful for people with depression.
Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to impaired judgment and reaction time. Many alcoholic beverages can actually be quite sugary which, as noted above, can have a way of sabotaging your mood and causing blood sugar levels to elevate and crash.
Our bodies interact with the foods we eat, and the choices we make each day can impact our body’s ability to function at its best. There is no specific diet that has been proven to alleviate depression, but we can see that there are plenty of nutrient-rich foods that can help to keep our brains healthy.