Diet and Depression
If you’re struggling with depression, you may feel like you’ll never be happy again. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help ease your symptoms. Did you know that diet and depression are connected?
In honor of Nutrition Awareness Month let’s talk about how diet and depression are connected, what you should and should not eat to help improve your symptoms of depression, and how you can get mental health help online.
Can Diet Have an Effect on Depression?
You’ve probably heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” Not only does a poor diet contribute to physical health problems, but it can contribute to depression, as well.
In general, you should focus on eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer greasy or sugary foods. However, there are some specific foods with properties that can help improve depression.
What Foods Are Good For Depression?
Here are a few foods that have been shown to improve depression:
- Coffee may really be a true pick-me-up in the mornings. Caffeine can help raise dopamine, one of the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain, and ease symptoms of depression. However, some people find that caffeine increases symptoms of anxiety.
- Healthy fat (coming from egg yolks and olive oil) can help improve anxiety and depression.
- Carbs with a low Glycemic Index or are high in fiber, like beans, sweet potatoes, and apples help you function without crashing. Low-carb diets are actually linked to depression, so don’t cut out carbs, just be careful about where they come from.
- Bacon is rich in amino acids that are associated with reducing anxiety and depression.
- Turkey produces tryptophan, which is famous for making people sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. But did you know that tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin? Eating tryptophan on an empty stomach can help restore serotonin levels in the brain.
What Foods Cause Anxiety and Depression?
Just as some foods can improve depression and anxiety, some foods can contribute to it. Here are a few foods you should try to avoid if you struggle with anxiety and depression:
- Fruit juice: Without the fiber in the whole fruit, the sugar in fruit juice can hype you up, then cause you to crash. Eat whole fruit and drink water, instead.
- Regular soda: It causes the same sugar crash as juice, with the added downside of directly contributing to depression.
- Diet soda isn’t any better than regular soda. It can make you even more depressed than regular soda. Besides, too much caffeine can fuel symptoms of anxiety.
- White bread causes your blood sugar to spike and crash, which can contribute to depression. Go for whole-grain bread, instead.
- Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in many “light” or “diet” foods, has been linked to depression and anxiety.
- Ketchup contains lots of sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes.
- Trans fats, found in many junk foods and also labeled “partially hydrogenated oils,” are linked to depression.
- Processed foods can contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Doughnuts are the epitome of everything bad for you: they’re full of trans fats, sugar, and white flour.
What Is the Best Vitamin for Depression?
Vitamins haven’t been shown to help depression the same way antidepressant medications have. Still, there is some evidence that certain vitamins or supplements may help ease symptoms of depression.
Always talk to your doctor before trying vitamins for depression as they may interfere with other medications or medical conditions you may have.
Here are some vitamins and supplements that have shown some promise helping people with depression:
- St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
- 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D
- Saffron (Crocus sativus)
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum)
What Is the Best Diet for Mental Health?
One thing is certain: a typical Western diet full of added sugars and highly processed foods contributes to anxiety and depression.
Any diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables along with lean meat will be an improvement. However, there is promising evidence that the Mediterranean diet may be the best diet for physical and mental health.
Are Eggs Good for Depression?
Surprisingly, yes, eggs are good for depression. According to Healthline: “Diets that include healthy fats from egg yolks and up to 3 tablespoons a day of olive oil have been associated with lowered rates of anxiety and depression.”
Mental Health Treatment Online
PlushCare now offers online mental health services like therapy and psychiatrist appointments. Our primary care physicians are also trained in light counseling and can prescribe antidepressants and/or help you create a diet plan to help with depression.
To get started, just click here or call (888) 710-2094 to make an appointment.
With a diet change, therapy, and/or medication, you can start to feel better sooner than you expect. All you have to do is reach out for help; we’re here for you.
Read More About Diet and Depression
Healthline. Red Wine, Coffee, and Bacon: Foods to Soothe Your Soul. Accessed on March 13, 2020 at https://www.healthline.com/health/foods-that-reduce-anxiety-and-depression#1
BMC Medicine. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). Accessed on March 13, 2020 at https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y
NCBI. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Accessed on March 13, 2020 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
WebMD. Foods to Avoid If You Have Anxiety or Depression. Accessed on March 13, 2020 at https://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-avoid-foods-anxiety-depression
Healthline. Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements for Depression. Accessed on March 13, 2020 at https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/herbs-vitamins-supplements
Medical News Today. What is the best diet for mental health? Accessed on March 13, 202 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327335