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Can Diet Help Ease Symptoms of Depression?

Written by Courteney

Posted on August 20, 2016 at 12:39 am


Can diet cure depression? Certainly not, clinical depression is a complex and serious health condition that is most often treated with a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. However, as with many chronic or intermittent health conditions, diet does play a big part in worsening or bettering illness. Certain ‘mood-boosting’ foods have shown promise in helping ease some of the symptoms of mild depressive disorder.

So, How Does Diet Come In To the Picture?

Lifestyle can play a big part when it comes to any illness, particularly exercise and diet. While exercise can be just as influential in helping ease depression by releasing mood-boosting endorphins, we will focus on diet for now. As we mentioned, depression is a complex health issue that is activated by a myriad of different factors, one of those factors being the brain’s release of abnormal levels of certain neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Depression can also be heavily influenced by hormones like cortisol, a stress hormone. While there is no one “super depression food” that can singlehandedly combat the illness, eating certain healthy foods together can help by replenishing depleted nutrient levels (which can also affect mood), boosting energy and activating the release of ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain which can help combat the effects of excess cortisol. Some of these foods include:

  1. Antioxidant-rich eats: antioxidants help combat free radicals, which are part of normal bodily processes but can lead to disease and disorder within the body (especially the brain) when they over replicate. Foods rich in antioxidants include: blueberries, leafy greens, orange fruits and veggies (thanks to beta carotene), and green tea, just to name a few.
  2. Complex carbs for a complex condition: when your body metabolizes complex or “smart” carbs (not simple carbs like cookies), the brain releases the mood-boosting neurochemical serotonin which can help naturally, albeit temporarily, elevate a low mood.
  3. Protein is your pal: protein notoriously boosts energy, giving your body (brain included!) the pick-up it needs to avoid the debilitating fatigue and lethargy commonly associated with depression, as well as better regulate chemicals and hormonal processes in the body. Moreover, amino acids (which are found in many protein-rich foods such as meat and fish) like tryptophan also boost your serotonin levels.

  4. Nuts, seeds and legumes: Think Mediterranean and your brain will thank you. Medical research has drawn a link between lower levels of both B12 and folate in depressed individuals, so it stands to reason that increasing these nutrients may help fight or stave off depression symptoms (but before you reach for any supplements, talk to your doctor). High concentrations of both can be found in many Mediterranean-esque foods such as beans, legumes, fish and leafy greens.

These are just a few of the diet tweaks that may give your body the goodies it needs to help gently ease some of the symptoms of depression. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to depression, and increasing omega-3 fatty acids and chromium have shown promise in helping alleviate at least some of the weight of depression. Aside from a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, it is important to take any prescribed medications and attend necessary therapy sessions to help combat the troublesome affliction. Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you return again soon!

 

 

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