How Effective Are Diets for Depression?

Updated on December 11th, 2019
Diets for Depression

Depression is a prevalent problem, and while antidepressants help, wouldn’t it be better if you could cure depression naturally? Until recently, the research for links between a proper diet and mental health were lagging, but that’s changing now. Studies have shown that a healthy diet with essential nutrients can help cure depression. Read on to know how a proper diet can help with depression.

How Can Foods Help Cure Depression?

Following the best diet for depression can help cure it. In fact, according to a study by Mental Health, people who were obese had a 55% chance of getting depression. A varied, albeit healthy, diet can give you all the nutrients to keep your mind and body healthy.

Did You Know?

Deficient and very high levels of blood sugar are unhealthy for the brain. Diabetes, for instance, is a high risk for dementia.

Which Nutrients Should You Look for in Foods?

Certain nutrients have shown improvement in mood after they are consumed. Here are some such nutrients to make a part of your daily diet.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

omega 3 rich food
Source: ShutterStock

According to research in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the lesser the consumption of omega-3s(1), the more chances there are of depression. Omega-3s increase the level of good fat in the brain, thus preserving the standards of the myelin sheath that protects the brain cells. This reduces the chances of getting brain disorders, and also the risk of mood disorders is lesser. Some good sources of omega-3 include:

  • Walnuts and almonds.
  • Flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
  • Chia seeds.
  • Fish and fish oil.
  • Canola oil.

[Also Read: Natural Treatments for Depression]

2. Antioxidants

We all know that antioxidants are good for boosting physical health, but a lesser known fact is that they can also help improve mental health. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are damaged molecules in body cells that cause inflammation and cell death.

The brain is more vulnerable to developing damaged cells, and hence needs more antioxidants than your body. Foods rich in antioxidants are known to reduce or reverse the cell damage caused by free radicals. Foods rich in antioxidants are:

  • Vitamin A – Fish, carrots, goat cheese, watermelon, etc.
  • Vitamin C – Lemons, kiwi, cauliflower, spinach, and other leafy greens, etc.
  • Vitamin E – Peanuts, vegetable oil, avocado, olives, etc.

[Also Read: Hypnosis for Depression]

3. Proteins

Proteins Foods
Image:ShutterStock

Proteins are another nutrient that has numerous well-known benefits for the body as well as the brain. A protein-rich diet is helpful for people suffering from depression. Serotonin deficiency is the common cause of depression, and eating protein-rich foods can reduce this deficiency. Also, proteins help maintain your blood sugar levels, thus ensuring that adequate blood reaches your brain cells.

There are a variety of foods that contain protein, some of which are:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans and legumes
  • Cheese

[Also Read: Home Remedies for Depression]

4. Vitamin B

Vitamin B is vital in mood disorders like depression. Vitamin B12 and folate are proven to improve mood. Including a variety of foods in your diet for depression ensures that you get adequate levels of vitamin B(2) since many foods contain folate and B12, such as:

  • Leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Oysters

[Also Read: 7 Vitamins for Treating Depression]

Did You Know?

A diet rich in Omega-3s can cure hyperactivity, depression, Alzheimer’s, and more such brain disorders.

Diet to Follow

Following a proper, healthy diet regularly can reduce depression. More and more pieces of research are indicating that nutrition is key to assuaging depression. According to a study, people who ate more fruits and vegetables were less likely to suffer from depression than those who ate more processed foods and sweets.

1. Raw Foods

vegetables and fruits
Image:ShutterStock

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables have a variety of benefits, and boosting your mental health is one of them. People who eat more fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer from depression, stress, anxiety, or any other mental disorders.

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These foods give you a feeling of satisfaction and fullness that can cause you to feel overall happy. The top 10 fruits and vegetables to include in your diet are leafy greens, carrots, cucumbers, apples, bananas, grapefruit, berries, kiwi, lettuce, citrus fruits.

[Read: Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables]

2. Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet
Image:ShutterStock

Since fresh fruits and vegetables are a crucial component of this diet, it is just as beneficial as consuming raw foods daily. Eating a Mediterranean diet every day can cause you to be more active and also reduces the risk of diabetes. A Mediterranean diet(3) includes a variety of foods like seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and more. All these foods contain various nutrients, such as proteins and omega-3s, that help reduce depression.

A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that more than 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide, and it is going to be the most common disorder by 2020. A proper anti-depression diet is the best way to prevent it. Following a diet that is good for mental health from an early age can reduce your risk of depression considerably.

Did You Know?

Fish, fruits, olive oil, and nuts are the essential foods for maintaining brain health, and a Mediterranean diet comprises basically of these four ingredients.


FAQs

1. Are Dietary Supplements an Alternative for a Healthy Diet?

If you feel that your diet is not adequately giving you all the nutrients your body and mind need, supplements are an excellent alternative, since they can give you more nutrients.

2. Are There Any Foods That People with Depression Should Avoid?

Any fruit juices, which are just sugar water when the fiber from the fruit is lost, are an absolute no-no if you are suffering from depression. Caffeine and foods with a lot of preservatives are just as unhealthy.

3. What Does Eating Healthy Have to Do with Depression?

Depression causes inactivity and mental sluggishness. Nutrients in foods like omega-3s are known to boost mood, thus making you feel active.

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