The link between depression and food is actually something that i’ve been wondering for a while. I don’t know if it’s because of social media –– probably is –– but it feels like there are more people who are depressed these days than say, 10 years ago.
Again, it could definitely be for social media and with the help of internet that leads us to have such easy access to information. And with that, there seems to also be a demand for a platform for us to rant and complain about our daily lives, for example Twitter, Facebook or Reddit. Through these platforms, it seems that there are a lot of people out there who are battling depression. Either the number has grown throughout the years, or people who are battling depression have become more vocal with it.
A lot of people are blaming it on social media being the catalyst to growing numbers to depression. But this had me thinking, could food also play a part in it as well? And if they do, how big of a part is food playing into someone battling with depression?
LINK BETWEEN DEPRESSION AND FOOD
Being that diet plays such an important role not only in our physical health but also in our mental health, some might wonder if there is any link between being depressed and the food that we consume. The answer is yes, there is. It has been proven that a diet that is characterized with high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, fish, low-fat dairy, and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. On the other hand, a diet that is made up of high consumption of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy, and low intakes in fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.
DIET OR DEPRESSION
What comes first : diet or depression? Can our diet lead us into feeling depressed? Or is it depression that leads us to eat myriads of unhealthy foods? And if so, could we cure depression or lesses the severity of it by changing our diets?
A report by the World Health Organization proves that a poor diet is a major factor contributing to depression, which is the top driver of disability for Americans from 15 to 44 years old. Another study that was done on more than 12,000 Australians proves that individuals who increased the number of serving of fruits and vegetables that they ate reported that they were happier and more satisfied with their life than those whose diet remained the same.
Higher levels of mental health and well-being are also shown for those who ate more fresh fruits and vegetables. However, this interestingly doesn’t seem to apply for those who eat canned fruits and vegetables.
WHAT COUNTS AS A HEALTHY DIET ?
It was found that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing depressive symptoms. As the Mediterranean is rich in whole grains, legumes, seafood as well as nutrient dense vegetables that are high in fiber and promotes a diverse population of helpful bacteria in the gut.
Not only that, research also shows that the microorganisms in our guts actually plays a very important role in processing neurotransmitters like serotonin that regulates the mood. Which is why, it might also be a good idea to balance out our gut bacterias through the consumption of probiotics such as Lactobaccili and Bifidobacteria to help elevate our moods.
FOODS TO AVOID
- Refined foods (fast foods and processed foods)
- Processed Oils (corn oil, safflower, trans fats, fats in meat and highly processed foods)
FOODS TO CONSUME
- Selenium (whole grains, brazil nuts, some seafoods, and organ meats)
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Vitamin B
Taking supplements for the vitamins mentioned above if one did you consume enough of it on the daily, will also give out the same benefits.
IN A NUTSHELL
While diet does play quite a big role in depression, there are also other ways that can help including but not limited to :
- Drinking enough water
- Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week
- Maintaining weight ; obesity heightens the risk of depression
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Avoiding usage of alcohol and other substances