Depression affects millions of men and women across the nation. It can be triggered by childbirth, hormonal changes, trauma, seasonal changes, stress, and nutritional deficiencies. Men and women with depression respond differently to the feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness associated with depression. Women tend to withdraw into themselves and may spend long hours sleeping or crying, feeling as though they are unable to cope. Men, on the other hand, often express aggression and anger when they struggle with depression.
Depending on the cause and severity of depression, the chemical imbalance associated with the disorder can be treated and alleviated with food.
The Connection between Diet and Depression
Oftentimes, when someone is suffering from depression, they will visit their family physician or psychiatrist who will then prescribe anti-depressant medication. The trouble with this approach is that while it may stop the symptoms for a short while, it does nothing to address the underlying cause.
A diet high in processed foods such as soda, donuts, microwave meals, canned food, and fast food can cause nutritional deficiencies that can lead to the development of depression. In order to function well, your brain needs a rich supply of vitamins and essential minerals. If your diet is extremely poor, your brain will be deprived of nutrients and your mental health will suffer.
Another reason diet and depression are so closely linked is many people have undiagnosed food intolerance. The most common dietary cause of depression, anxiety, and psychosis is gluten intolerance. Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. If you are intolerant to gluten and eat foods containing it, the cilli in your gut will become flattened due to chronic inflammation. This prevents nutrients from being absorbed into your system, which can cause the symptoms of mental illness.
Food for Depression – Top Foods to Beat the Blues
When it comes to finding food for depression, whole food is always your best choice. Your body and brain need foods that are rich in healing nutrients.
Natural mood-boosting foods include:
- Wild-Caught Salmon – Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help support brain health and cognitive function.
- Brown Rice – Brown rice helps support healthy blood sugar levels and prevents the glucose spikes that can trigger depressed mood. It also contains B vitamins to help your body better cope with everyday stressors.
- Walnuts – Walnuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids to feed the brain and treat depression.
- Leafy Green Vegetables – Another good food for depression is dark, leafy greens. They are loaded with magnesium to help support your neurological health.
- Flax Seed – Yet another good source of omega-3 fatty acids, milled flax seed can be added to organic yogurt or salad to reduce inflammation and fight depression.
The best rule to follow when looking for foods for depression is to eat healthy. This means cutting the junk from your diet and replacing it with whole foods such as lean meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Also, don’t forget about healthy fats. Even if you’re on a diet, your body absolutely needs good fat to avoid mood swings, irritability, and depression. So eat plenty of extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and nut butters.
Depression can sometimes be a sign that something more serious is going on. However, eliminating junk foods that contain food dyes and other preservatives and replacing it with whole food may be all you need to get back to feeling like yourself again. If your depression worsens or you have thoughts of suicide, speak with a crisis counselor immediately.
For mild depression, there’s no more natural way to beat the blues than through a healthy, whole-food diet!
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