What Is the Best Diet for Depression, Fatigue, & Anxiety? 8 Top Foods
8 minute read
When it comes to mental health you have more control than you may think—Genetics and environmental factors play a part in the development of mental health disorders like depression, but you can have a say too.
While we often think that depression is all about problems in the brain, most people don’t think about the interconnectedness of their mental health with the rest of their body and daily routine. Energy and fatigue have a more obvious connection to the right diet, but how you feel emotionally can also be influenced by the right (or wrong) foods.
Because of the link between inflammation and depression, the right choice of foods can help keep the blues away. As far as depression and anxiety go, the proper diet can help prevent the issues as well as treat symptoms to make them more manageable.
Here are the 8 best foods to add to your diet to help fight depression, fatigue, and anxiety, not to mention chronic inflammation.
The Depression Diet
Before getting into the details of a diet that helps fight depression, it is important to note that you should visit your doctor immediately if you feel you may be suffering from depression.
When depression strikes, it can cause a host of physical problems. These health conditions and their symptoms can further exacerbate depression, leaving you in a negative cycle of sadness.
One sure fire way to break this cycle is by switching up your diet. Incorporating foods that help fight and prevent depressive symptoms can be a delicious and natural way to combat the disease before it takes over your life.
1. Dark Leafy Greens: Greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chards are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Along with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, these greens have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing chronic inflammation throughout your body, leafy greens can help to protect you from depression and other mental health illnesses.
2. Turmeric: Turmeric, a spice originating from India, contains the compound curcumin, which is a powerful inflammation fighter. Studies have found that depressed patients show higher levels of certain inflammatory markers, specifically located in the brain area.
| Related: Turmeric: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory |
Turmeric can be added to any number of different foods, but many people choose the ease of a daily turmeric supplement, which delivers massive (and convenient) benefits.
3. Avocado: This power food is perfect for promoting brain health because it contains the healthy fat that your brain needs for optimal functioning. Full of monounsaturated fats, avocados help to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the brain.
In comparison to the unhealthy trans fats that plague modern-day processed foods, monounsaturated fats prevent inflammation, providing some protection against depression.
4. Walnuts: These nuts are one of the richest plant sources for omega-3 fatty acids. You can also get these from fish or krill oil supplements.
| Related: Curcumin & Krill Oil: A Powerful Combination |
Numerous studies have shown the support that omega-3s have for brain health. Since our brain is made primarily of lipids, it makes sense that fats would be integral to its overall function and health.
Depression is significantly lower in areas where omega-3 fatty acids are consumed regularly, and the brains of individuals with depression register lower DHA (an essential omega-3) levels.
5. Tomatoes: The key ingredient of tomatoes for fighting depression is folic acid. Studies have shown a high incidence of folate deficiency among patients with depression.
Folic acid is responsible for preventing excess homocysteine from building up in your body. This amino acid restricts the production of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
By restricting these neurotransmitters, you are more at risk for developing depression. The folic acid in tomatoes helps to prevent this from happening.
6. Berries: The best antioxidant foods you can eat are berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries all possess the ability to scavenge free radicals, which are known to cause cell and tissue damage.
Antioxidants help to repair damaged DNA as well as protect it from harm. And when it comes to the brain, they have been linked with significantly lower depression scores.
Inflammation causes oxidative stress, which in turn triggers depression. A daily dosage of berries removes free radicals and prevents oxidative damage from causing depressive symptoms.
7. Mushrooms: The chemical properties of mushrooms oppose insulin directly, therefore keeping your blood sugar levels low and your mood even. In addition to this, they act as a prebiotic, stimulating growth of healthy gut bacteria.
This benefits mental health because of the strong gut-brain axis and the fact that the nerve cells in your gut produce 90 percent of your serotonin levels. By caring for your intestinal health and feeding gut bacteria the food they need to thrive, you also promote good mental health and can keep depression at bay.
8. Beans: The high fiber content in beans helps support weight loss as well as keep blood sugar levels low. By managing blood sugar and protecting you from sugar spikes, you are also protected from mood changes.
This starch keeps you full for longer, preventing you from craving and eating unhealthy, sugary foods and helps maintain mood stabilization. Fiber is also a treat for your intestinal flora, and keeping them happy also keeps your brain happy.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world, causing individuals feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anger, frustration, and apathy. It can cause emotional pain to the person suffering as well as their loved ones and often interferes with quality of life.
Traditional treatment involves therapy and antidepressant medications, but there is an ongoing debate as to whether drugs are effective or not.
Not only is depression dangerous to your emotional well-being, but it can also cause physiological damage too. Individuals with depression are at increased risk for suicide as well as other illnesses, like heart disease.
Because depression can also negatively affect your sleep patterns and eating habits, your immune system can weaken, leaving you exposed to serious diseases. There is also an increased risk of developing substance abuse, which can lead to a host of physical ailments as well.
The Bottom Line
Depression can have a substantial negative impact on your social, emotional, and physical well-being. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you feel as though you may be suffering from depression, do not self-medicate. Consult a medical professional for proper treatment.
By incorporating the right foods in your diet, you can control a number of conditions such as inflammation, chemical imbalances, and oxidative damage that are linked to depression. The right foods can promote mental health and quality of life, so eat up, stay up, and don’t let depression keep you down.