Diet and Depression: What to eat, What to avoid

Medical treatment and counselling can better help relieve the symptoms of depression. But following a healthy diet can also help cope up with depression.

Feeling low at times is normal. But when it happens on a regular basis, then you may probably be dealing with depression. You may experience depression in different ways: sadness, anger, hopelessness, anxiousness, restlessness, aggressiveness, irritability, and so on. Men, women, and children may also experience the symptoms of depression differently.
There are several possible causes of depression. It could be family history, early childhood trauma, brain structure, medical conditions and drug use. Depression is a serious medical condition that can get worse if not treated properly. It can also lead to some chronic health conditions like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, to name a few.

Medical treatment and counselling are always recommended to relieve the symptoms of depression, but lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, can also significantly help improve the condition.
While some foods may be beneficial to people who are dealing with depression, some may worsen the condition. Here are what you should avoid and what you should eat.

What to include
Focus on foods that are high in nutrients. Our brain reacts according to what you eat and drink. So, eating nutritious foods is essential to keep your brain healthy.
Foods rich in antioxidants
Studies have shown that eating foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent cell damage and lessen the destructive effects.
Add these foods that are rich in antioxidants in your diet: apricots, broccoli, carrots, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato.
For Vitamin C, you can add to your plate some blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries and tomato. And get the Vitamin E boost from nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ, etc.
Protein-rich foods
Eating protein-rich foods can help boost your energy and alertness.
You can get this nutrient by eating beans and peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk, poultry, soy products, and yogurt.
Foods loaded with B Vitamins
A study found that rates of depression rising in men and women when they got less folate and vitamin B12. Mediterranean diet is the best choice to get both these B vitamins. Folate are found in legumes, nuts, many fruits, and dark green vegetables. Meanwhile, Vitamin B12 can be found in fish and low-fat dairy products.
Food rich in Vitamin D
Researchers believe that Vitamin D can help improve the symptoms of depression. Besides, exposure to sun, vitamin D can be obtained from dietary sources.
Some foods that can provide vitamin D are oily fish, fortified dairy products, beef liver and egg.
Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids
Eating omega-3 fatty acids enhances brain function and helps reduce risk of mood disorders and brain diseases.
To get this nutrient, eat salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel. If you are a vegan, you can have flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
People who eat a poor-quality diet are more likely to get depressed than those who follow a healthy diet, this has been proved in many studies. Therefore, it is important to manage your eating habits for your mental well-being.
Some people tend to drink alcohol to cope up with depression, but it can actually aggravate the condition. Alcohol consumption has been linked to mental health problems.
Refined foods
As far as possible, persons dealing with depression should avoid fast food and junk food, which are normally high in calories and low in nutrients. Research findings have shown that people who eat lots of fast food are more vulnerable to depression than those who eat freshly cooked items.
Moderate intake of caffeine may benefit people with depression, but excess consumption may increase feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression.  Too much caffeine can affect your sleep quality as well. So, try to avoid products with a high caffeine content, such as energy drinks and sodas. However, you can have coffee to obtain the benefit of small amounts of caffeine.
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