Depression vs. Food: What to Eat and What to Avoid?
What we eat affects our overall well-being, it’s something everybody knows. We know which foods are good or bad for our kidneys, heart and liver, but can our diet help us feel better, less stressed and depressed? According to both nutritionists and psychiatrists, there is indeed connection between food and mood. So, what eating habits can make us more energized and happier? On the other hand, what food choices can bring us down? Keep on reading to find out!
What to Avoid?
Before we focus on foods that may help you stop feeling blue, it’s of high importance to know what to avoid in your meals. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates are perhaps the first on the list when it comes to foods that can make you feel depressed, as shown in numerous studies. Because they cause spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, even if they are tasty (and they usually are), refined white starches and simple sugars won’t help your mood. Although you’ll get a burst of energy after eating a candy or white bread, soon enough you’ll feel cranky and tired. In addition to high sugar and gluten content, processed foods in general are rich in other ingredients associated with poor mood and irritability, such as trans-fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, etc.
Furthermore, you should leave off or, at least, limit alcohol consumption, because alcoholic beverages can disturb your sleep and depress you.
What to Eat to Fight Depression?
Now, let’s see who “the good guys” are; what are the best foods to eat to stay both mentally and physically healthy? Foods rich in proteins, such as eggs, seafood, poultry and Greek yogurt increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters, both of which are natural mood and energy boosters. Also, foods with high protein content slow the absorption of (above mentioned) carbohydrates, reducing fluctuations in blood sugar. When it comes to vitamins, vitamin D, B 12 and folic acid may be helpful in relieving mood disorders and easing depression. Try these foods to add mood-boosting vitamins to your diet: egg yolks, salmon, lean beef, milk, cottage cheese, soy milk, dark leafy greens, broccoli, lentils and oatmeal.
Unlike simple and refined carbohydrates, fibers are great for our health; they increase serotonin levels, the chemical associated with good mood. In addition, soluble fiber rich foods are helpful in slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Beans, peas, oats, Brussels sprouts and pears have healthy amount of fiber, hence they should be included in your depression-fighting diet. Finally, eat dark chocolate whenever you’re feeling down, because it causes the production of anandamide, a natural neurotransmitter that can block depression and pain.
Check out the following infographic by steadyhealth.com for more information on good vs. bad foods for depression.