One of the most underrated aspects of mental health is nutrition. As food plays a significant role in our physical health, it also does with our mental and emotional health. When you are struggling through depression, it can be overwhelming to make choices about eating the right foods.
While there’s no proven diet to relieve depression, these small tweaks to your diet may help you to decrease the symptoms of the same and have a positive effect on your daily life. Several studies have shown that carefully chosen fruits, vegetables, and dietary supplements can help improve your mental health.
Food and Depression:
It can be argued that – being depressed makes us more likely to eat unhealthy foods. But, there is overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle: preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and mental health disorders, including depression. While science also agrees that foods can be an essential tool for people dealing with depression and anxiety.
- Beans: Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, both of which help to maintain stable and consistent blood sugar levels. In addition to helping in maintaining the blood sugar spikes and dips which can affect our mood, they are also great sources of folate. Folate is a vitamin B that helps the body use vitamin B-12 and amino acids, helping the body to detox cells and create new cells.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are known to support overall brain health in general. It is one of the highest plant-based sources of Omega-3 and a great source of protein to help keep blood sugar levels at a healthy balance. It also helps to improve your bone health and is beneficial in reducing the risk of diabetes.
- Dark Chocolate: Cocoa beans contain flavonoids, which is a plant-based nutrient which is a powerful antioxidant that can improve mood. It was seen in an elaborate study of U.S. women that higher flavonoid consumption was linked with a lower risk of depression, especially amongst older women. Tea, apples, citrus, blueberries, and onions are the other rich sources of the same.
- Bananas: There has been an established link between depressed mood and low levels of tyrosine, which is an amino acid that produces the so-called ‘happy hormone’ dopamine. It controls your brain’s reward and pleasure centers, while it is yet to be established if eating tyrosine-rich foods will reduce your depression, some of the healthy sources of it include bananas, avocados, and almonds.
- Leafy vegetables: Many of the processed foods or things you might find at your local grocery shop are filled with preservatives and offer little to no nutritional benefit. Brussels sprouts, spinach, and kale should be some of the important ingredients of your diet. They are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, which is one of the three types of Omega 3 fatty acids. Folate, fiber, and other nutrients make vegetables, especially the darker leafy greens, an excellent choice when looking for foods to help improve and stabilize mood.
Our bodies are the result of the foods we eat and the choices we make each day. It can impact our body’s ability to function to its maximum capacity. Although there is no specific diet which has been proven to reduce depression, it is evident that there are plenty of nutrient-rich foods that can help to keep our brains healthy and make you better.
Omkar Kulkarni is a self-proclaimed art appreciator, a certified film reviewer and someone’s favorite human being.