Depression and Nutrition

Depression and Nutrition

Depression is a troublesome and sometimes incapacitating condition that affects more than one million Canadians per year. People suffering from a depressive episode will often display a variety of symptoms, some of which are listed below;

·         feeling worthless, helpless or hopeless,

·         sleeping more or less than usual,

·         eating more or less than usual,

·         having difficulty concentrating or making decisions,

·         loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities,

·         decreased sex drive,

·         avoiding other people,

·         overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief,

·         feeling unreasonably guilty,

·         loss of energy, feeling very tired,

·         thoughts of death or suicide

Nutrition can play a key role, both in the onset, severity, and duration of depression, including daily mood swings. Many of the eating habits that precede depression are the same as those which occur during depression. These patterns may include skipping meals, poor appetite, and a desire for sweets.

In order to help avoid, or mitigate the effects of depression, consider eliminating or moderating your intake of sugar and sugary foods, and caffeine. Get into the habit of eating at least three times a day, including breakfast, replace sweets with fruit and whole grain carbohydrates, eat lean sources of protein several times a day, and drink plenty of water. Focus on a well-balanced diet, including plenty of leafy greens for folic acid, and bananas, avocado, chicken, greens, and whole grains for Vitamin B6. In addition, increase your Omega 3 Fats (salmon, mackerel, and herring). Balancing your blood sugar is very important because there is a direct link between mood and blood sugar balance.  Eating lots of sugar is going to give you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood; symptoms that this is going on include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sweating (especially at night), poor concentration and forgetfulness, excessive thirst, depression and crying spells, digestive disturbances and blurred vision. Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose it is no surprise to find that sugar has been implicated in aggressive behaviour, anxiety, and depression,  and fatigue.

Lots of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods,) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins.  If you’re concerned about getting enough of some of the key nutrients, consult your physician or dietician before supplementing.

Omega-3 fatty acids have innumerable health benefits. Research reveals that a deficit of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression. Researchers determined that societies that eat a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids have a higher prevalence of major depressive disorder than societies with ample intake.

The bottom line is that food plays a key role in maintaining mental health.  Here are some helpful hints if you or someone you love is suffering from depression:

Fruits Sugar and sugary foods
Vegetables (especially colourful vegetables like dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers etc White bread, rice and pasta
Water Cookies and pastries
Whole grains (ie:quinoa) Processed foods
Poultry Caffeine
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring… Alcohol
Lean beef Juice and pop
Nuts and seeds
Low fat cheeses and dairy products

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your physician or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Never disregard any advice given to you by your doctor or other qualified health care professional. Always seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site is not a substitute for medical advice.


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