“Depression begins with disappointment. When disappointment brews in our soul, it leads to discouragement”. Sadness, feeling down or a bit of insecurity is what we all have faced in our lives at some point. But they persist continuously and affect our life substantially, it may result in depression.
Depression affects your mood, ability to handle daily activities and ability to think clearly. Symptoms include lack of interest, frequent mood-swings, lack of joy, and many others. It can even lead to suicidal tendencies at times. Can food cure depression? Researchers have developed an “Antidepressant Food Score” ranking 34 different nutrients as to their effectiveness in treating and preventing depression. These are known to have positive effects on depressive disorders.Folate:
or folic acid is a B vitamin that helps improve metabolism. Folate is naturally present in many foods namely watercress, spinach, broccoli, mustard greens, kale, lettuce, and Swiss chard. Folate helps in breakdown of the amino acid homocysteine, which are responsible for causing depression and Alzheimer’s. Folate substances have been tested as a treatment for depression.
Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins helps produce brain chemicals that affect mood and major brain functions. Low levels of vitamin B such as B-12 and B-6 may lead to frequent mood swings and can even cause depression. A diet rich in Vitamin B namely fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk products, seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds should be consumed.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression. Scientists believe that Vitamin D help convert amino acid tryptophan into serotonin. Try to eat Vitamin D helps limit supplemental intake to 600IUs for adults under 70. Fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks are rich in vitamin D.
Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid found in food that help promote essential functioning in the brain, including sleep, mood and behaviour. A diet rich in tryptophan includes nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs.
Serotonin: Imbalance in the levels of serotonin can create frequent mood-swings and leads to depression. It is found that depression occurs due to a chemical imbalance in our body which is caused by a sleep disorder or appetite disorder. One should take a diet rich in serotonin that includes; eggs, cheese, pineapples, tofu, salmon, nuts, seeds, and turkey.
Zinc is a vital element for proper immune system functioning and cellular metabolism. It has been found that there’s a link between dietary imbalance and depression. A diet that includes oysters, red meat, crab and lobster, baked beans, pork, poultry, nuts, oatmeal, and beans is a great source of zinc.
Magnesium: Magnesium regulates muscle and nerve function. A magnesium deficiency may lower the levels of serotonin in the brain. A RDA for magnesium intake for adults is 310-420 mg depending upon age and gender. A diet rich in magnesium includes; nuts, seeds, beans, avocados, brown rice, oatmeal, spinach, whole grain bread and yogurt.
Selenium: Selenium is needed for thyroid function. A low level of selenium in diet is associated with anxiety, tiredness and even depression. A diet rich in selenium includes; brazil nuts (8 per week), fatty fish, ham, red meat, poultry, brown rice, eggs, beans, spinach
Beta-carotenes give brilliant color to fruits and vegetables like pumpkins, apricots, cantaloupes, and carrots. They are antioxidants and help remove free radicals from your body. Your body also converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Increasing intake of beta-carotene has been shown to improve depression and reduce anxiety. Carrots, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, collards, peaches, pumpkins and other squashes, dark leafy greens, sweet potato, etc, are rich in beta-carotene.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the most important fats you should eat. We need them for our brain and heart health, to fight chronic inflammation, and other benefits. Every time we refer to fatty fish, we are talking about oily fish like salmon and you can’t find a better omega-3 source than fatty fish. Other sources of Omega-3 are fatty fish, cod liver oil, oysters, flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts, pastured or omega-3-enriched eggs, grass-fed meats, hemp seeds, spinach, avocados, and dairy products.
As anyone who has had an upset stomach knows, your gut has a direct line to your brain. Serotonin, a mood boosting hormones discussed above, is produced in the gut. A happy gut creates lots of serotonin. The probiotics i.e., live good bacteria and yeasts are found in fermented foods that help fight depression and anxiety.
Fermented foods: Fermented food help in relieving perturbed gut function, anxiety and even depression. Fermented foods are good for mental health namely kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto, kimchi, soft goat milk, sheep milk cheeses, Greek yogurt, and pickled vegetables.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that your body uses to create dopamine. This hormone controls your brain pleasure center. Ergo there may be a link between low levels of tyrosine and depression. You can increase production of dopamine (and serotonin) by exercising. Tyrosine and Phenylalanine are present in parmesan cheese, soy foods, lean beef, pork, and lamb, fatty fish, poultry, seeds, nuts, eggs, beans, whole grains, bananas, and avocados.
Dark chocolate (75% or higher cocoa) is high in flavonoids that help lower the risk of depression and anxiety, particularly in older women. Flavonoids are antioxidants that fight chronic inflammation and boost your immune system. Flavonoids rich compounds include; dark chocolate, berries, black or kidney beans, red wine in moderation, and black, green and red tea.
Low potassium levels are associated with depression and are linked with serotonin pathways. Increasing your potassium levels may have an immediate result in depressed feelings. A diet rich in potassium contains; beans, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, apricots, winter squash, yogurt, salmon, avocados, nuts, bananas, carrots, etc.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that lower the levels of chronic inflammation linked to depression. Researchers found that even a tiny increase in Vitamin E levels can reduce depression and anxiety. If you are stressed and depressed, Vitamin E may be the most powerful stress buster you can find. A diet rich in Vitamin E includes; wheat germ oil, seeds, nuts, hazelnut oil, fatty fish, avocado, sweet red peppers, lobster, mango, berries, and apricots.
Vitamin C is important in fighting off cold and preventing strokes. Turns out a deficiency can cause neurological damage. Add vitamin C to your daily dose of food and improve symptoms of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Vitamin C is popularly found in oranges, grapefruit, guava, sweet yellow peppers, kale, kiwis, broccoli, persimmons, strawberries, and chilli peppers.
You’ll notice that a lot of these foods show up on several lists. Eating them as minimally processed as possible gives best results. Studies show that eliminating sweets, refined and fried food, processed meats, and sugary drinks while increasing intake of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, legumes, fish, lean red meat, olive oil, and nuts have decreased depression symptoms in subjects by 33%.