In the age of “fast” everything – food, beverages, and daily life – it can seem impossible to eat the right foods to feed your body, mind, and spirit.
The fuel you consume translates to what your body uses to run basic functions. Digestion, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, skeletal, and your central nervous system rely on getting the right food to keep you going day after day.
Choices in today’s marketplace (grocery stores, convenience stores, and drive-thru restaurants) makes it easy to pick “quick” over “good” foods and your health is paying for it.
The Connection between Depression and Nutrition
When you don’t give your body the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and other critical antioxidants, every cell inside you suffers. It should come as no surprise that science has now confirmed that your basic nutrition can stimulate or prevent depression.
Mental health is often neglected in comparison to other conditions that are immediately life threatening. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes claim so many lives that depression and other behavior disorders seem less urgent.
The more that researchers link nutrition to total body sickness or wellness, the more we truly understand that everything inside us is connected. Addressing the human condition from head to toe, taking our mental health into consideration as strongly as cholesterol levels, and looking at ways to make all of you well is the backbone of alternative medicine.
Mainstream science is finally catching up.
A team of researchers with University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria published their findings in BioMed Central. Their study followed more than 15,000 people for more than a decade, charting their food habits. Participants did not have a history of depression or mental illness at the start.
The “shocking” findings didn’t surprise us here at Daily Superfood Love. A diet consisting of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other foods with little or no processing (meats, dairy, and dry goods) proved to be a viable method of preventing and treating depression.
The team examined several healthy eating patterns to determine their impact on mental wellbeing. Processed foods, high-sugar foods, and a large intake of meat received a negative score. Produce, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other proven sources of powerful antioxidants were given a positive score.
The end result…nutrition and depression are definitely impacted by one another.
“We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds. These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health,” explained Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, team lead with the university project. “The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression.”
Since 1999, the SUN Project (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) has followed lifestyle and diet patterns of their participants to determine better ways to address diabetes, obesity, depression, and much more.
The depression study utilized data from participants already involved in SUN for a more defined view of how diet affects mental health over more than a decade. It should come as no surprise that those who consumed a higher volume of fruits, vegetables, and seafood (with lower intake of grains, sweets, meats, and processed foods) scored far higher in mental wellbeing.
“The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet. Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression,” stated Sanchez-Villegas.
The emerging science backing up using food to prevent and treat many illnesses is almost overwhelming. Now that nutrition is being taken more seriously, we can barely keep up with the findings from reputable universities and labs around the world.
Another study from Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College in India found similar findings. Researchers wrote, “Few people are aware of the connection between nutrition and depression while they easily understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness. Depression is more typically thought of as strictly biochemical-based or emotionally-rooted. On the contrary, nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression.”
They go on to document nutritional deficiencies prevalent in patients suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia. Asian and American countries are particular at risk for shortages of essential minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acid. In patients suffering from depression, poor nutrition resulting in core deficiencies is found a vast majority of the time.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety (or simply wish to prevent the possibility in your own life), address the possible nutritional deficiencies in your diet. Though it may not be a “cure-all,” there is no longer any doubt that proper nutrition helps depression sufferers.
7 Best Food Source Anti-Depressants
- Vitamin D – sunshine, mushrooms, and fortified milk
- Omega-3 – seafood, seeds, and nuts
- B Vitamins – seafood, leafy greens, and eggs
- Folate – leafy greens, citrus, and beans
- Iron – seafood, poultry, and leafy greens
- Magnesium – pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, beans, and leafy greens
- Zinc – beef, beans, seeds, and nuts
You can take control of your total health – physical and mental – with the power of food. Know that you can prevent (and treat) depression with nutrition.
Anything that helps you get back to the life you’re meant to live should be considered. Food is an easy, inexpensive, safe, and effective way to get your mental wellbeing back on track.
Evaluate your nutrition plan today and get eating for better health.