It’s hard to eat healthy under the best of circumstances, but it’s even greater challenge when fighting depression. However, there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests that what you eat has a greater influence on your mental health than you’d imagine.
While depression does increase the risk of making unhealthy food choices, which explains our gravitation towards ‘comfort foods’. Research also makes it clear that individuals on diets dominated by processed foods are more vulnerable to depressive disorders. Compared to those on diets that contain more fresh fruits, vegetables, and natural foods.
A balanced nutrition can help fight depression so here are some ‘brain healthy’ foods. Including; omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, folate, as well as vitamins A, B, and C.
Mental health and wellness expert, Anita Fernandes from Everyday Health shares 7 foods to help fight depression.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are the best sources of omega 3 fats like DHA and EPA. Not only is this linked to improvements in brain function, but also, reduction in depression.
While one study goes so far as to suggest that EPA supplements could even be as effective as antidepressants. However, we still don’t know enough to make such bold claims. What is clear though is that these nutrients can significantly improve brain health. They also have a positive influence on mood, a great addition to any diet for depression.
Dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, and kale are amongst the most nutritionally dense foods. Providing you with a wide range of essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, K, iron, calcium, and folate. Aside from the fact that vitamin deficiencies can affect mood-related chemicals in the brain which contributes to depression. Folate from leafy greens however, helps improve serotonin levels (happy chemical). On the other hand, imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood and can lead to depression.
Avocados are a great addition to any anti-depression diet because of their impressive nutritional profile. Similar to fatty fish and nuts that contain healthy fatty acids, avocados are a rich. Rich source of oleic acid or monounsaturated fats, essential for healthy brain function. In addition to this, avocados also contain a variety of nutrients. Including protein, vitamins K, C, E12, as well as B vitamins.
Whether strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries – they’re all packed with antioxidants. Berries also contain flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, that are particularly beneficial for brain health. Studies suggest that a regular intake of berries might improve brain activity, cognitive function. Also lower the risk of depression.
Researchers over the past few decades have put gut-brain connection in the spotlight. While there’s no clear understanding of the relationship between gut health and depression. However, some studies suggest that symptoms of depression can be controlled by restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
The benefits, of course, may vary, depending on the underlying cause of depression. But this will most likely have a higher efficacy when dealing with depression caused by chronic gastrointestinal conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Some of the best natural foods for probiotics include yogurt, tempeh, and sauerkraut.
You probably don’t need another reason to reach for a bar of chocolate, but there’s plenty of reason to be selective about the type of chocolate that you reach for. Although, regular chocolate bars are loaded with sugar, which is bad for you. But dark chocolate with little added sugar can be great for healthy brain function, among other benefits that it offers.
Dark chocolate contains loads of flavonoids from the cocoa plant, providing anti-inflammatory protection and enhancing blood flow to the brain. Of course, the very act of eating dark chocolate also induces feelings of pleasure that help fight depression.
While the notion that eating carrots can improve your eyesight may be written off as a myth. There’s no denying that they offer plenty of other health benefits as well as antioxidants. This includes; carotenoids, which helps to lower signs of depression.
Some studies suggest that low levels of carotenoids may be associated with a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms. While this relationship is not clearl, it’s advisable to include more carrots and other carotenoid rich foods like sweet potatoes or squash in your regular diet.
Adding these foods to your diet is unlikely to produce dramatic changes overnight, but they can help you make a transition towards healthier eating choices that benefit brain function and fight depression.
These foods serve as a good starting point, but you should widen your diet to include a wider range of natural foods that represent all of the food groups, so as to get the balanced nutrition that you require in your fight against depression.
This will also help to build your resilience which will reduce new episodes of depression. For more dietary recommendations or supplements, speak to your health care provider to identify possible nutritional deficiencies that could be exacerbating the symptoms of depression.