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What causes depression?

Food plays a major role in our bodily health, in addition to our mental and emotional wellbeing. When you're fighting with depression, it may feel a little overwhelming to consider eating the perfect foods. However, a number of these tiny changes in your diet may reduce your symptoms and have a beneficial effect on your everyday life. Diet & nutrition are among the most overlooked aspects of psychological health. 

Several factors can contribute to depression. There could be inherent biochemical or psychological problems that predispose someone to depression. There could be a cause, such as a stressful event or grief. Exercise is also crucial, and there is plenty of evidence that regular exercise boosts mood, especially if you're ready to exercise outdoors. 

See: Acupuncture treatment for Depression

Diet & foods that help depression

Diet & Foods For Depression

Whatever your dietary preferences, you will find an assortment of choices that can offer mood-boosting benefits. You will still need to reevaluate your eating habits and just eat these foods, but being mindful of which foods affect your mood can help you better handle depression symptoms.

Omega-3 fats

Omega-3 fats can not be manufactured within the body, and for that reason, you must take them through your diet. The richest dietary source is from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, pilchards, herring, trout, and fresh but not tinned tuna. Studies have shown that the more fish the populace of a state eats, the lower is their incidence of depression. There are two important kinds of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, and the evidence indicates that it is the EPA that is the most potent natural antidepressant. Numerous studies are demonstrating the benefit of omega 3 in depression.

- Fish

Wild-caught fish, particularly the more fatty types like salmon, mackerel, sardines, mackerel, and tuna, are terrific options to help fight depression. They're all good sources of omega-3 fats for brain health.

Omega-3 fats are vital for brain health and might be involved in dopamine performance, a neurotransmitter critical in mood regulation. Researchers analyzed 26 previously published studies (involving over 150,000 participants) that examined the connection between fish consumption and the risk of depression.  The findings demonstrated that even more clinical trials are necessary to explore omega-3 fatty acids' function in depression and mental health.

- Beans

Beans provide protein and fiber, which help to keep stable and consistent glucose levels. Besides helping minimize blood glucose spikes and drops that may influence our mood, beans can also be excellent folate sources. Folate helps the body produce blood cells, DNA, and RNA, but it also helps metabolize proteins. Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are quite high in folate.

- Seeds

Flaxseed and chia seeds are good choices for your diet if you struggle with depression. Much like a few of the other foods mentioned, both of these varieties of seeds are especially great sources of omega-3 fats.  These seeds pack a powerful punch if you're searching for small ways to boost your diet and your disposition. Furthermore, pumpkin and squash seeds are an excellent way to increase tryptophan. Turkey is well known in connection with tryptophan, but there are quite a few other food sources that offer greater amounts of this vital amino acid. Pumpkin and squash seeds are great, with only one ounce providing more than half the recommended daily intake of tryptophan.


The top seeds are flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds are so small they're the best floor and sprinkled on cereal. Alternatively, use flaxseed oil, such as in salad dressings. While technically supplying omega 3, just about 5 percent of the sort of omega 3 (alpha-lipoic acid) in those seeds is converted within your body into EPA.

Though other nuts such as cashews, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are useful in supplementing omega-3 fats, fats appear to be the winner in this category. Walnuts are known to encourage overall brain health, being among the greatest plant-based sources of omega-3 and a fantastic source of protein to help keep glucose levels at a wholesome balance.

- Increase serotonin with amino acids

Serotonin is created in the body and mind from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is eventually converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophan can be seen in the diet; it is in many protein-rich foods like fish, poultry, beans, and eggs. Just not getting sufficient tryptophan is very likely to make you sad. Exercise, sunlight, and lowering your stress level also tend to encourage serotonin.

Make sure you consume enough protein from beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, fish, eggs, and meat, high in tryptophan. Don't take 5-HTP or tryptophan if you're presently carrying an antidepressant without your doctor's permission. Eat at regular intervals including snacks that have low GL protein and carbohydrates such as fresh fruit with a couple of nuts, oatcakes with humous or celery, and cottage cheese.

- Boost B vitamins intake

People with very low blood levels of the B-vitamin folic acid are more likely to become depressed and less likely to receive a positive result from antidepressant drugs. In a study comparing the effects of providing an SSRI with a placebo or with folic acid, 61 percent of patients improved over the placebo mix; however, 93% enhanced with the addition of folic acid.

Eat B vitamin-rich whole foods: beans, seeds, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Folic acid is particularly full of green vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds, while B12 is only found in animal foods -- meat, fish, eggs, and dairy produce. 

- Include Vegetables

Eat your veggies! While this is important for everybody, eating veggies can help if you struggle with depression. People with depression have been linked to lower dietary intake of folate compared to people without depression.

Folate, fiber, and other nutrients make the darker leafy greens a terrific choice when searching for foods to stabilize and improve mood. Leafy green vegetables are rich sources of ALA, one of the three chief kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. Good choices include spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, and watercress.


Chicken and turkey are fantastic sources of lean protein, which can help stabilize glucose levels, maintaining your disposition well balanced during the day. Along with being reliable sources of lean protein, poultry and turkey breasts are proven to offer high tryptophan levels. Again, this is beneficial as it helps create serotonin, which helps us maintain healthy sleep and a balanced mood. Only 3 ounces of roasted chicken breast provides 123 percent of the recommended daily intake of tryptophan. Many of us consume chicken breast frequently, but integrating more lean protein like turkey and poultry during your week can help you boost your intake of tryptophan.

- Get more chromium

A discovery by Dr. Malcolm McLeod, at the University of North Carolina suggested that individuals who are afflicted with 'irregular' depression might benefit from chromium supplementation. This mineral is very important for keeping your blood glucose stable because insulin, which prevents sugar in the bloodstream, can not work properly without it. It turns out that simply supplying appropriate chromium levels to individuals with atypical depression can make a significant difference. 

- Probiotics

Research is linking good bowel health with good psychological health. Several studies have found that bacteria residing in your gut, such as probiotics, may play an integral role in mood regulation by decreasing inflammation in your body, creating feel-good hormones, and affecting your stress reaction. It may explain why a higher-than-average number of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome also develop depression in addition to anxiety. Foods that contain probiotics include kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha.

Many of the processed foods or items you may find in a convenience store are full of preservatives and give little to no nutritional advantage. Your body is attempting to make sense of things to do with such foods, and it could significantly interrupt or rob your body (and mind) of all important nutrients and energy it needs to function at its best.

- Get some sun.

Around 90% of our vitamin D is synthesized in our skin from the sun's action, making it the 'sunshine vitamin.'  Get your vitamin D levels tested and some sun exposure, without sun-block, but do not risk a sunburn.

See: Ayurveda herbs for depression remedies

Diet & foods to avoid for depression

Foods to avoid for depression

If you are coping with depression, it may be just as important to know what not to eat. Unfortunately, a number of these foods often turn to if they are having a rough day. Naturally, most things in moderation will not hurt you, but being aware of the negative impacts certain foods may have on your mental health can help you make better food choices.

- Sugar

There's a direct connection between mood and blood sugar balance. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into sugar, and your brain runs on glucose. If your blood glucose supply varies significantly, your disposition becomes more irregular too. Poor blood sugar balance is often the single biggest element in mood disorders. Eating lots of sugar will provide you with sudden peaks and troughs at the amount of sugar in your blood. Since the brain depends on an even source of glucose, it's no surprise to discover that sugar was implicated in aggressive behavior, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

Many refined sugars and processed carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, and pasta can be linked with depression. These foods not only provide very little in the way of nourishment, but they also consume the mood-enhancing B vitamins.

Sugar also diverts the source of some other nutrient involved in the mood - chromium. This mineral is very important for keeping your blood glucose stable because it prevents glucose in the blood and can not work properly without it. There's more on chromium below. You might be surprised how many foods are considered "healthy" yet contain extraordinary amounts of added sugar. Examples of catchy foods like this are granola bars, energy bars, trail mix, and honey roasted nuts. Bear in mind that sugar won't always be labeled simply as "sugar" on the ingredient list. To be on the lookout for additional sugar, you may want to also look for terms such as corn syrup and fructose. Limit foods with high sugar content, especially those with added sugars. Keeping your blood glucose levels more evenly balanced throughout the day can help your mood remain more evenly balanced.

- Refined Grains

Just like with sugar, we're surrounded by processed foods using refined grains. Foods such as white rice and pasta are full of processed carbohydrates offering little to no nutritional value and rob you of important B vitamins in the digestion. Loading your daily diet with these processed carbohydrate foods will take your glucose levels on a roller coaster ride through the day, which could also lead to symptoms of low mood and fatigue.

- Alcohol

Limiting alcohol is in your very best interest if you struggle with depression. Alcohol is a depressant and may result in impaired judgment and reaction time. Many alcoholic drinks can be quite carbonated that, as mentioned above, can have a means of sabotaging your disposition and causing blood glucose levels to elevate and crash. Even though some research has demonstrated that small quantities of alcohol such as red wine can be useful, it's usually in your best interest to steer clear if you struggle with depression.

- Caffeine

Caffeine can help you begin your day with a boost but may result in crashes later in the day. It can leave you feeling like you want more to recover energy. Most Americans find themselves over-caffeinated, as we drink coffee and energy drinks frequently. A moderate quantity of caffeine, two to three cups every day, has been associated with a lower risk of suicide.

Green tea has antioxidant benefits and theanine, an amino acid that provides an anti-stress benefit helpful for those who have to fight depression.

See: Beat Sugar Detox Symptoms and Feel Better


The food choices we make each day may affect our body's ability to function at its best. Although there's no particular diet that's been demonstrated to alleviate depression, we could observe there are loads of nutrient-rich foods that can help keep our brains healthy. Try an elimination diet with suspect foods that might or might not be among the typical suspects of gluten (wheat, rye, barley), soy, eggs, wheat, dairy, and yeast. Get a food intolerance test as an alternative. Do not make dramatic changes to your diet or cut out entire food groups without professional advice to ensure your diet remains balanced and healthy. It's an excellent idea to talk to your health care provider before making substantial changes to your diet. 

See: Beat Depression with Meditation


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See: Mindfulness as a Therapy for Reducing Depression

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