The diet that we have, determines our overall mood. As truthfully said by Ludwig Feuerbach, “We are what we eat”. Following this line of thought, many studies have been made in order to get maximum benefit from the wide variety of nutrients.
According to the conclusions from a recent study, some foods can actually improve the symptoms of depression. This was expressed by a group of experts, supervised by Dr. Drew Ramsey who is the Psychiatry Professor for the University of Columbia (New York), in the Annual Congress 2016 for the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The investigation was to provide doctors and psychiatrists with the tools needed before writing a prescription for depression medicine, to take into consideration the patient’s diet and nutrition. By understanding the patient’s nutritional needs, they can understand their physical needs and their mood levels, also the nutritional deficiencies. The study allowed them to find and list needed nutrients for proper brain function (NEC), such as the fatty acids omega 3, fiber, magnesium, calcium and the vitamins E, D, B1, B9 and B12, all of which can help alleviate emotional distress caused by depression or anxiety.
Serotonin, a natural antidepressant
Our body has a neurotransmitter called serotonin; this is in charge of generating sensations such as feelings of overall wellbeing and happiness. If it doesn’t receive the correct amount of nutrients, it begins to create havoc by causing emotional distress such as anxiety, depression and sadness. In order for the body to be able to produce serotonin, the body needs tryptophan, an amino acid that the body can’t create on its own. For this reason, we can obtain it from consuming eggs, nuts or fish.
But these results on the body are short-term, better said, our mood improves with a meal but studies have shown that for long-term results, it is necessary to have a varied, wholesome diet. It is important to state, that there doesn’t exist one certain food that can eliminate depression completely, but a whole balanced diet can be part of a general treatment plan that can improve our physical and mental health.
7 foods to fight depression:
- Chocolate: This is one of our go-to foods when we are going through a tough time. Not only does it have an irresistible flavor, it is capable of producing serotonin in our body, a hormone that makes us feel happy and secure. However, it has very high caloric intake for this reason it isn’t recommended to eat more than one ounce occasionally. If possible, only eat dark chocolate and it can be used as an emergency kit, when faced with great sadness.
- Yogurt: According to a study by the Medicine School at the Virginia University (USA), the lack of lactobacillus (bacteria caused by natural fermentation process) can cause the onset symptoms of depression. To fight back, it has been discovered that yogurt contains large amount of this bacterium. Eating this product on a regular basis has been proven to ward off depression.
- Nuts: This can’t be missing from your diet. Studies have shown nuts have elevated levels of properties to help nurture the heart, prevent Alzheimer and improve depression symptoms. It has vegetable fats that can be very beneficial, when eaten in small amounts, as it contains omega 3, magnesium and selenium. All these help improve our mood. They also contain tryptophan and amino acids that generate serotonin, henceforth improving mood.
- Turkey: Out of all types of lean meats, this one has the highest quantity of tryptophan, an ingredient that is essential in producing serotonin. This hormone is a natural substance and is a key ingredient to fighting depression; lack of it causes a faster development of depression according to studies. It is possible to substitute other types of poultry for turkey, but it has less amounts of tryptophan than turkey.
- Coffee: Caffeine makes us alert and wakes up our attention span. Also, it helps us with stress caused from being depressed. Experts warn that caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy, also for treating postpartum depression, as it could have an undesired affect intensifying the symptoms.
- Vegetables: Choose dark green leafed vegetables such as spinach or kale, as these contain high amounts of folic acid and vitamin B9. Both are needed for cerebral functions. Studies concluded by the Tufts University, Massachusetts stated that the depression symptoms could be greatly reduced by daily eating folic acid that is found in these vegetables.
- Salmon: Along with other fish, such as tuna, contain high amounts of poly-saturated fats. One of them is omega 3 that are normally found to be at very low levels in a person who is suffering from depression when compared to someone not suffering from depression. For this reason, it is recommended to regularly eat salmon or other types of fish, such as anchovies or sardines even though they have lower levels of omega 3.