Depression is a mental illness marked by feelings of profound sadness and low interest in positive activities. It is a persistent low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. There could be various causes of depression, but poor diet is one of the reasons revealed by researchers.
A certain study reinforces the hypothesis that a “healthy diet has the potential to not only ward off depression, but also prevent it," says Ms Anu Ruusunen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of nutritional epidemiology.
Depressed individuals often have a poor diet quality and a decreased intake of nutrient rich food. But this is not yet clear in the case of healthy individuals suffering from depression.
A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, cereals, milk and low fat dairy products, pulses, fish, meat and poultry is associated with a lower risk of depression.
- Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression because low folic acid levels leads to low SAMe(S-adenosylmethionine), which increases symptoms of depression. By improving folic acid status, SAMe increases, and depressive symptoms drop. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate.
- In addition, coffee and tea also act as anti-depressants to an extent because caffeine promotes the production of dopamine (a neurotransmitter released by the brain) which is responsible for the feeling of well being and happiness. But the amount of caffeine consumed should not be more than 300mg per day as caffeine is an addictive substance.
- Omega 3-fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oil, nuts and fish oil, increase the level of serotonin (known as the happy hormone), which reduces the level of depression. Not only this, essential amino acids like tryptophan play a role in the formation of serotonin. Meat, fish, beans and eggs are good sources of essential amino acids.
- Having refined carbohydrate and processed foods increases your blood sugar levels and does not provide any kind of nutrient to the body and brain. It even utilizes the mood enhancing vitamin B. Sugar also diverts the supply of another nutrient involved in mood enhancing, chromium. The best way to lower your sugar level is to have food low on the glycemic index.
- Lastly, Vitamin D deficiency may cause depression because vitamin D is responsible for brain development. So consume vitamin D rich foods such as egg, mushrooms, fish etc
Depression is one of the leading health challenges in the world and its effect on public health, economics and quality of life are enormous. Not only the treatment of depression, but even the prevention of depression needs new approaches. Change in dietary and lifestyle factors are one of the possible approaches.
So adopt a healthy eating habit to enhance your mood and stay away from depression naturally.