Every bite you eat, every moment of your life, is transformed into fuel for your bodily functions to use. Without proper fuel, your digestive, respiratory, immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, skeletal, and central nervous systems operate sluggishly and ineffectively. The link between your nutrition and depression is something we often don’t see, but it’s there.
A world of easy-access foods picked up through drive-throughs, gas stations, and grocery stories has been convenient. Prepared meals in boxes, bags, and cans are easier, often cheaper, and found everywhere.
These types of fake foods are so readily available that it’s almost a chore to eat fresh food prepared in your kitchen.
As a result of this junk diet, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. We have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and mental health problems than ever in humankind’s history.
The statistics are staggering…but they apparently haven’t been eye-opening.
Depression and Nutrition – Understanding the Connection
Your mind, body, and spirit need real food. By not providing essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required to live, you literally shorten your own lifespan.
The physical consequences of poor nutrition are easy to connect. Metabolic and auto-immune disorder cases are skyrocketing as a direct result of a toxic diet. Most of the top ten global killers are directly linked to diet and/or lifestyle.
Scientists now understand that your mental and emotional health suffer more from a deficient diet than anyone would have guessed a decade ago.
Eating poorly affects every cell in your body. That includes your hormones and your brain.Eating poorly affects every cell in your body. #EatRightClick To Tweet
It’s not about eating a perfect diet of whole foods or becoming a staunch vegan. We’re talking about the basic nutritional requirements of your body. Diet can either cause depression and other mood disorders or it can prevent it.
The right foods can help reduce the most common symptoms related to anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit and hyperactive disorder (ADHD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), chronic fatigue, and clinical depression.
Even slight adjustments to your current eating plan can help improve overall mood, energy, and sleep quality.
We Talk About Nutrition…Depression, Not So Much
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their 2014 statistics for causes of death. Suicide has remained on this list for decades.
Top 10 Causes of Death Annually (U.S.) – 2014
1. Heart disease: 614,348
2. Cancer: 591,699
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
4. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
6. Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541
7. Diabetes: 76,488
8. Influenza and pneumonia: 55,227
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,146
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773
While mental health problems don’t claim as many lives as heart disease or cancer, more than 40,000 people in the United States take their lives every year.
Other than suicidal thoughts, lack of impulse control, or high-risk behavior that sharply raises your risk of injury or death, depression and other mood disorders aren’t considered “urgent.”
In comparison to the “major diseases,” mental health is shamefully neglected.
The more we understand the connection between nutrition and depression, the more we realize that depression is a cause and bio-marker for many other diseases.
Everything in your body is connected, working in tandem to keep you moving, learning, and living. If one system in your body goes haywire, the others are impacted.
The entire human body must be addressed and treated. Until doctors see mental health as pivotal to your wellness as physical health, your body won’t be working in sync.Nutrition and depression are definitely linked. #EatRightClick To Tweet
Using data from the SUN Project (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra), researchers with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria analyzed the eating habits of more than 15,000 people. At the start of the study, none of the participants had a history of depression or mental health issues.
SUN followed lifestyle and diet patterns since 1999 to determine better ways to address diabetes, obesity, depression, and much more. The team published their findings in BioMed Central. Their conclusion at the end of the decade-long study?
Nutrition and depression are definitely linked.
“We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds. These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health,” explained Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, team lead with the university project.
It should come as no surprise that those who consumed a higher volume of fruits, vegetables, and seafood (with lower intake of grains, sweets, meats, and processed foods) scored far higher in mental wellbeing.
“Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression,” stated Sanchez-Villegas.
The Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College in India found similar findings. Researchers wrote, “Few people are aware of the connection between nutrition and depression while they easily understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness. Depression is more typically thought of as strictly biochemical-based or emotionally-rooted. On the contrary, nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression.”
They documented nutritional deficiencies prevalent in patients suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia.
The emerging science backing up using food to prevent and treat many illnesses is almost overwhelming. Now that nutrition is being taken more seriously, it’s time to put the new information to work.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety (or simply wish to prevent the possibility in your own life), address the possible nutritional deficiencies in your diet. Though it may not be a “cure-all,” there is no longer any doubt that proper nutrition helps depression sufferers.
7 Best Food Anti-Depressants
1. Vitamin D3 – sunshine, mushrooms, and fortified milk
2. Omega-3 – seafood, seeds, and nuts
3. B Vitamins – seafood, leafy greens, and eggs
4. Folate – leafy greens, citrus, and beans
5. Iron – seafood, poultry, and leafy greens
6. Magnesium – pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, beans, and leafy greens
7. Zinc – beef, beans, seeds, and nuts
Anything that helps you get back to the life you’re meant to live should be considered but never stop taking prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.Food is an easy, inexpensive, safe, and effective way to help get your mental wellbeing back on track.Click To Tweet
Food is an easy, inexpensive, safe, and effective way to help get your mental wellbeing back on track. Eating right and feeling good are two sides of the same coin. If you suffer from depression, nutrition could be a way to feel better.
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Fruit and vegetables aren’t only good for a healthy body; they protect your mind too. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2017
Rao, T. S., Asha, M. R., Ramesh, B. N., & Rao, K. S. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Retrieved February 1, 2017
Borchard, T. (2014, November 14). 10 Nutritional Deficiencies That May Cause Depression. Retrieved February 1, 2017
Leading Causes of Death. (2016, October 07). Retrieved February 1, 2017
Cancer Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2017
Suicide Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2017
CDC. (n.d.). Heart Disease Fact Sheet. Retrieved February 1, 2017