Did You Know that What You Eat Affects Your Depression?

Do you eat high-calorie comfort foods because you’re depressed? Or does the indulgence in those comfort foods actually trigger your depression? Finding out which came first may be elusive, but either way, studies show that food impacts your mental health.

Depression is a complex disease that affects more than 16 million Americans. It can strike at any age, but generally hits people in their 30s. Women tend to suffer from depression more than men, but collectively, depression is the number one cause for disability in the United States and worldwide. 

Managing depression takes a good medical team and an individualized plan of action. Dr. Tasha Boone at The Medical Place Family Practice in West Columbia, South Carolina, offers comprehensive care that takes into account your unique medical history and ideal health goals. She can help you determine the best holistic approach to your chronic health issues, such as depression, and set you on a path toward health and wellness. 

In addition to the medical and physical components of depression, Dr. Boone encourages her patients to explore the benefits of a healthy diet. 

The science behind diet and depression

It has long been suspected by physicians, psychiatrists, and nutrition experts that a bad diet can lead to a plethora of health problems, including mental health issues. A recent study has substantiated that theory by showing that diets high in fiber and vegetables greatly reduce the symptoms of depression.

Almost 46,000 people participated in the study, which showed that cutting out junk food, including fast foods and sugar, and eating nutrient-rich foods made a huge difference in their mental health. The researchers theorize that the link between diet and depression may be related to the reduction of inflammation, fatigue, and excess weight, in addition to an overall feeling of well-being you get from good food.

Foods that ward off depression

Even small improvements to your diet can make a difference. You don’t necessarily need to follow a strict regimen, but making a few smart changes could help improve your mental health. 

Carbs

It’s no surprise that comfort foods are typically carb-laden creations that we crave when we’re feeling down. Carbohydrates tend to boost serotonin, which is a chemical in your brain that puts you in a good mood. 

But be careful. Not all carbs are created equal. Go for the complex (whole grains) rather than simple (cookies) carbs to boost your mood and avoid depression.

Selenium

Selenium is not a food, but a mineral found in your food. This little powerhouse has the ability to improve your mood, just as a lack of it can have the opposite effect. Get at least 55 micrograms a day by eating:

B vitamins

If you’ve ever heard of the Mediterranean Diet, you know that it contains lots of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and lean protein (are you noticing a pattern here?). 

These nutrient-rich foods all contain good doses of the B vitamins, and when you don’t get enough of these essential nutrients, your risk for depression increases.

Omega-3 fats

Another advantage for those fortunate folks in the Mediterranean is their access to fresh fish. The omega-3 fats found in fish like salmon and anchovies are an excellent deterrent of depression. If you don’t like fish, no worries, you can still get your daily omega-3 fix by eating flax and chia seeds or walnuts, or you can talk with Dr. Boone about taking an omega-3 supplement.

Protein

When you feel you need a boost of energy to counteract your depression, don’t reach for caffeine or sugar. Instead, serve yourself some protein like lean beef, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, or Greek yogurt. The healthy alternative to the rush you get from caffeine and sugar makes you more alert and focused without giving you the jitters or the inevitable crash.

Depression, diet, and wellness

The link between what you eat and how you feel has been scientifically established, but you didn’t need an official study to tell you that. When you eat better, your body functions better, and you feel better — it’s pretty simple.

But if you have health issues that make this simple concept much more complicated, Dr. Boone can help you get back on track and heading down a path that leads to success and wellness. You may even be able to manage or beat your depression with some simple dietary changes.

Call our office today or request an appointment online to discover how you may be able to eat your way out of depression. 

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