Feeling blue? It may be time to make a change to your diet. There are foods for depression fighting and foods that you may want to avoid if you are prone to feeling blue. It’s true that we are what we eat, and our diet can have a strong influence our mood.
Depression currently affects approximately 14.8 million American adults. It is strongly prevalent in my family, and with those kinds of numbers, it is likely that depression is probably somewhere in your family too. As many as one in 33 children (and one in eight adolescents) suffer from depression too. Just imagine what impact it could make if eating habits were altered to add foods for depression fighting and cut out foods that are depression inducing. Who knows how many people could be helped simply by eating healthier!
Foods for Depression: What to Eat and What to Avoid
You are what you eat, so if you want to improve your mood and help fight off depression, here’s what you can do:
Channel your inner Greek goddess.
A Mediterranean diet, which is high in green vegetables, fish, beans, whole grains, olive oil, and nuts and low in red and processed meats, may prevent the onset of depression. You will also commonly see popular dishes such as hummus, orzo, Greek yogurt (containing limited added sugars and live, active cultures), and some cheeses.
If you are trying to eat healthier for yourself and perhaps your family, it’s time to take a trip to the Mediterranean. If you aren’t planning a move to Greece anytime soon, there is no need to worry. Even a moderate adherence can reduce the risk of developing depression.
Go for the fruits and veggies.
Let’s be real here. You should be eating fruits and vegetables for a whole bunch of reasons, not just to improve your mood! The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce depression and lower anxiety. Especially high in antioxidants are red grapes, berries, and dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
Just keep swimming.
Consider increasing your intake of fish. The omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish are essential for normal brain function, and a deficiency has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders such as depression. These essential fatty acids may be able to modify the neurotransmitters in the brain that are thought to be involved in depression.
See red (as in grapes and wine).
Resveratrol, a well-known anti-inflammatory compound found in the skin of red grapes, can prevent depression-related behavior. This means that (if you’re over 21 years of age) you can have a glass of red wine to lower your stress level. (Moms everywhere, rejoice!) You’re welcome.
Get more folate – and vitamin B12.
Increased intake of folate has been associated with a decreased risk of depression. Adequate levels of folic acid are essential for brain function, and a folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders such as depression and cognitive impairment. One study found that people with low folate intake are 50% more likely to develop depression while those with low B12 levels have three times the risk of developing depression. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, fortified foods, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate.
Put down the soda.
And slowly step away. Sweetened beverages, especially those of the diet variety, are linked to an increased risk of depression. In one study, people who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30% more likely to develop depression. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38% percent more likely to develop depression. Ditch those sodas and sugary drinks and go with water instead.
While you’re at it, cut out the junky carbs.
Lose the candy and sweetened treats too while you’re at it. A diet high in simple sugars and refined carbohydrates can increase your risk for depression. Consumption of high fructose corn syrup alters how the brain responds to stress, which can result in the worsening of symptoms related to depression and anxiety.
Hold the fries too.
High blood sugar as a result of consuming a high trans-fat diet has been shown to cause anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as measurable changes in the brain. Trans fats are the artificial fats heavily found in margarine, packaged baked goods, and fast foods. So it’s not just the added sugars that are a problem, it’s the fat too. In fact, consumers of fast food are more than 50% more likely to develop depression than people who eat little or no fast food. Coincidence? I think not.
Grab a cuppa Joe.
Increased coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of depression. (But that does not mean it’s okay to drink the entire pot!) Keep it unsweetened if possible, to avoid the sugar spike that may offset the benefits of the coffee.
Not a coffee drinker? Go for tea instead.
Drinking tea may help to calm you down during times of stress or anxiety. Grab the decaf version if you have a choice. One study even found that people who drank black tea consistently for several weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after a stressful event occurred.
Will you be adding any of these depression fighting foods to your diet?
Beating the blues, or at least battling them better, may be made easier by making a few simple changes to your eating habits. We are what we eat, so make sure that your diet will have a positive influence on your mood.
Here’s to happy days ahead!
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