The Link Between Food And Depression (Plus: How To Eat Your Way To Feeling Better)

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How to Overcome Depression with Nutrition

Depression spreads her wings over the world lately and, often, we don't understand what's going on when the signs hit us.

So we need to focus on the red flags of depression to be aware of and learn how to defend ourselves if the battle has started. How? With some easy nutrition tips to help us understand which food for depression can help, and which foods may be making our depression worse.

To begin to learn how to treat depression, let's answer a few questions:

If you answered "yes" to more than 3 questions, good. Acknowledging that there is something wrong is the first step.

RELATED: There Are Two Different Types of Depression (And How They Each Sneak Up On You)

Those symptoms are the messages your body sends you to communicate that depressive processes are at work in your body. Depression is a medical condition that is different from the normal surprised mood or sadness after a specific unpleasant event.

Overcoming depression alone is possible, but not always easy and sometimes dangerous. So before reading further, be aware that the advice in this article are not a substitution of medical advice and consultation with your caregiver is a must.

So what happens to your body? If there are no physical changes in the brain (that can be easily seen by a scanner), then you are most likely experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Differences and changes in neurotransmitters’ levels in your brain:
    Those are chemicals that are responsible for information transmitting between different centers in our brain and between brain and body. Very often they are confused with hormones, which also have their role in depression as we will see further. When these are not in balance, depression is a fact.
  • Hormonal changes:
    These can be caused by different disease related to Thyroid gland, menopause, period, or other conditions are often a part of the causes of depression
  • Heredity: 
    Among those who suffer from depression, you often find blood relatives of identical or similar nature.
  • Traumatic life events:
    Often, emotional traumas result in the unlocking of unwanted psychological symptoms. Such events may be the loss of a close person, financial disturbances, extreme stress over a prolonged period of time, or childhood injuries.
  • Nutrition mistakes:
    Unhealthy eating, diets and not enough water can be the reason for the imbalance in biochemistry that leads to depression.

Who is at risk of depression?

Statistically, women suffering from depressive states are significantly more than men.

Women, by nature, produce less serotonin than men. This chemical is called the "happiness hormone" as it is related to our feeling of joy and happiness and it is closely tied to two other hormones progesterone and estrogen — the hormones responsible for our monthly period.

That’s why depressed women are most likely prescribed SSRI antidepressants — they increase the level of this chemical in your brain.  

What is the link between food and depression?

As we said, serotonin is the main hero in our story today. People believe that serotonin is produced mainly in the brain. Wrong! Only 10 percent of it is a brain job. All the rest is synthesized by cells in the gastrointestinal tract. Do you understand now? What you eat is what your mood will be.

So that’s why we want to be prepared and give our body what it needs. 

If you are depressed, avoid these 7 foods:

  1. Refined sugar: The fast ups and downs in blood sugar levels are related to fast mood swings in a period of about 20 minutes. This affects biochemical balance. Remember what we just said about that?  
  2. Artificial sweeteners: Coincidentally, they also suppress the production of serotonin, causing mood swings, headaches, and insomnia.
  3. Trans-fats: They clog arteries and prevent blood from the brain so no food for the brain. He is in a panic!
  4. Alcohol: This is one of the biggest suppressors of the central nervous system;
  5. Caffeine: Some people experience sleep disturbances that are sufficient to cause mood swings. In addition, complaints such as trembling, anxiety, and irritability may occur;
  6. Genetically modified foods: They are unhealthy in many ways, but for our purpose here, let’s mention the most important. They are created to be resistant to bacteria, so they destroy some of the intestinal flora that is vital for the production of amino acids such as tryptophan. This is the main "material" of serotonin. 
  7. Antibiotics

RELATED: Signs Your Depression Is Getting More Serious (And It's Time To Reach Out)

So what are the foods for depression that you can eat?

1. "Good" bacteria

This is for the purpose of intestinal flow. Give your body enough of the "good" bacteria, like fermented foods — homemade if possible, so you can avoid too much salt or high acid levels.   

2. Vitamins and minerals complex.

Significant for the mood are some of the carotenoids, antioxidants (in particular quercetin), vitamin C, and B group vitamins.

3. Capers

They are the richest plant on the planet of flavonoid quercetin. Any other plan that is bright yellow also has it.

4. Chocolate

Did you just jump for joy? Not so fast! Yes, chocolate does increase the levels of happy chemicals in our body. Yes, women crave it (obviously, because they have low serotonin levels). And, yes, it is so good!

But have you tasted unprocessed chocolate? Raw cocoa in the form of grains, paste, or powder? Now, this one is for you. The chocolate you know is referred to the group of processed foods and refined sugar. In turn, raw cocoa is both fermented food and high mineral food as well as tryptophan content.

5. Omega 3 fatty acids

They are one of the major factors for brain health and mood regulation;

6. Tryptophan

This is the precursor to serotonin — unprocessed cocoa, sesame, eggs (from untreated hens), meat (non-treated animals), spirulina, almonds, and chickpeas.

7. 5-hydroxytryptophan​​

This is a is a non-food chemical that is produced by tryptophan and has a beneficial effect on depressive states. It is available as a supplement.

8. Radiol

This slows down the process of serotonin breakdown

9. Herbs

Specifically, St. John's wort, which is probably the most popular herb used to fight depression. It has been used for centuries to make medicines and herbal infusions, treating depression, sleep disturbances, and anxiety disorders.

In women, it shows an extremely beneficial effect in combination with Vixe Agnus cascus, for treatment of PMS symptoms and drops in the stomach.

If you are already taking medications prescribed by your doctor for your condition, please consult a healthcare professional before taking these herbs.

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Maya Boneva–Mahama is a Life Coach, NLP therapist, and Business and Success Coach. Visit her website.