One of the most overlooked aspects of our mental health is our diets.
What we eat not only plays a significant role in our physical health, but also in our mental wellbeing. Until recently, little emphasis has been placed on diet in a clinical setting. Most treatment options for mental health related issues have centered around medicine and traditional forms of talk or CBT therapy. This, however, has been changing…especially with the advent of a whole new field of medicine designed to address the connection between diet and depression: nutritional psychiatry.
Researchers, shockingly, have found that those suffering from depression have benefited most from changes in their diets. What the studies have shown is that individuals who consume refined carbs and sugar on a regular basis had higher rates of depression. This is believed to occur due to an imbalance in nutrients, couple with inflammation in the body caused by heavily processed foods. Fortunately, studies have also shown that eating more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains can have a beneficial effect on mood and mental health.
Changing your eating habits can be a very difficult task, especially when many of us turn to comfort foods when we are feeling down. If you start by making small dietary adjustments—one at at a time—this process will feel less daunting and overwhelming. Here are some foods that, when added to your diet, can help manage some of your depressive symptoms:
Vegetables – Folate is a major nutrient found in vegetables, especially green leafy ones. Individuals who suffer from depression have been found to have lower levels of folate than those without depression.
Beans – Beans are a really great source of protein and fiber which help maintain stable and consistent blood sugar levels. By reducing spikes and dips in your blood sugar, you will experience more even moods.
Fish and Nuts – These foods are packed with Omega-3 fats, which can help lead to increased serotonin production and an improvement in mood.
Single Ingredient Foods – Processed foods are filled with preservatives and lack nutritional value. When your body tries to figure out what do to with these foods it can interrupt its normal function. It is best to give your body foods in their most natural state.
Before making any major changes in your diet, you should speak with a medical provider. And remember, in cases of severe depression, pharmacological treatments—such as the use of antidepressants or ketamine infusions—may still be prescribed. If you are already taking antidepressants or receive ketamine infusions for depression, ask your doctor about whether nutritional changes could help enhance or support positive outcomes.