How to Beat Depression With Food

The World Health Organization estimates that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. They also say that it’s one of the biggest factors behind disability around the world.

The baffling about depression is that while it’s very common, it’s still misunderstood by most people. And the problem is that the symptoms are not as obvious as physical illnesses.

As a result, there’s a stigma around this topic and it leaves those who suffer from it feeling powerless.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the usual treatment for this condition consists of prescription drugs.

However, there’s been a rising trend of mental illness around the world in recent years.

Rates of ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder have steadily increased in such a short period of time that it’s leaving experts puzzled.

The reason they’re stumped is because the number of prescriptions being given have ALSO increased – and yet, more and more people are STILL suffering from some form of mental sickness.

Could there be another way to treat depression aside from the usual approach of medicating someone?

Can you find happiness on your plate?

More and more research around the world has shown that there is an active connection between mental health and nutrition.

In a paper entitled “Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry,” experts observed the positive effects of proper nutrition on a person’s emotional well-being.

According to the authors, they “advocate recognition of diet and nutrition as central determinants of both physical and mental health.”

Other studies, such as one from the University of Pittsburgh called, “Early Intervention to Preempt Major Depression in Older Black and White Adults” also stresses the role of improving one’s diet in fighting mental illness.

But why are so we affected by the food we eat, and how does it influence our emotions, exactly?

The gastrointestinal tract (GI), otherwise known as the gut, contains a complex network of nerve cells that are directly connected to the brain. These two regions of the body communicate with each other.

For instance, when you see the food you’re about to eat, your brain sends a signal to your gut. This triggers a series of pre-digestive processes which will help you break down your food later on.

On the other hand, your gut also sends a signal to your brain by releasing hormones. These tell you when you’re hungry or full.

And the interesting thing about this connection is that it also exerts a direct influence on your feelings. What I mean is that your gut actually creates certain chemicals such as serotonin which greatly affects your moods.

And if your gut has the right fuel from good food, it will be able to produce these “happy chemicals” and keep you emotionally grounded.

In fact, malnutrition can increase your likelihood of getting depressed by up to sixty percent. 

Which foods are best?

In a nutshell, you should avoid anything processed. These types of food are extremely common in grocery stores and restaurants and contain unhealthy fats, high amounts of sugar and other synthetic ingredients.

All of these contribute to poor gut health which leads to other problems. This includes inflammation, a weak immune system, an overproduction of insulin, obesity, and diabetes.

And of course, it also interferes with your gut’s natural ability to produce those happy chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.

So, it’s in your best interest to focus on natural, unrefined foods like fruits, vegetables and quality sources of meat.

These foods contain micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals) as well as macronutrients (like carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fat). Together, they help with basic biological functions such as:

  • Build muscle (which is important for burning fat), connective tissue, skin, and hair
  • Heal your body through cancer-fighting antioxidants
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes with anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Protect brain matter from aging (which prevents neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia)

There are a lot of superfoods out there that can heal your mind and body, but here are a few suggestions:

Dark, leafy vegetables: kale, collard greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard and spinach

Fruits: apple, avocado, blackberries, papaya, peaches, plums, mango, lychee, blueberries, grapes, lemon, strawberries, watermelon

Nuts and Seeds: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds

Healthy Food = Healthy Brain

Remember, changing any habit takes time, including your food choices. But if you can make the commitment to small changes every day, they add up.

That’s why you can start small by doing the research first. Find good sources in your local area for whole foods, and ask your family and friends to help you.

Once you’ve found nearby places that can provide you with good food, you can start introducing them into your diet. Studies show that starting with even one healthy meal a day can turn into a lifelong habit of eating well.

If you make this investment in your health, you can protect yourself from the typical diseases that come from our modern lifestyle.

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