Undoubtedly, food is our primary need for survival. Food, clothing, and home – all these are our basic demands for a living. Yes, others are environment and good air also. Air Pollution is a great threat to us. Because our capital, Delhi, is the most air – polluted city in India. But most important is diet to rejuvenate our mental health.
For survival, food is a major factor. Without food we can not survive. On the other hand, there are some foods which are enemies of our body and mind. So we have to choose good foods and reject bad foods. Eating junk food when you’re depressed can actually make you feel even worse.*
Our bodies interact with the foods we eat, and the choices we make each day can impact our body’s ability to function at its best. Although there is no specific diet that has been proven to alleviate depression, we can see that there are plenty of nutrient-rich foods that can help to keep our brains healthy.
So we must take foods which can strengthen our body and mind.
As my whole family members are inclined to be victims of anxiety and depression, I did some substantial research on which foods promote sanity and which ones send an alarm to our limbic system (emotion centre) and cause inflammation. So we decided to eliminate gluten, dairy, caffeine, and sugar from my diet. We also started eating fresh produce throughout my day and committed to hitting the grocery store a few times a week.
As a result, I feel more emotionally resilient and less vulnerable to the impact of stress and drama on my mood.
Here are some of the foods we eat every day to feel good. They provide the nutrients our bodies need to fight off inflammation in my brain, which leads to depression.
- The foods that help strengthen, and keep the sound our mental health
Changing your nutrition can be a great addition to traditional therapy, like CBT and medication, but it comes at a much smaller cost and can be a great way to self-care,” suggested some researcher at University College London and contributor to the European MOOD –
FOOD program, which focuses on preventing depression through food.
There are two ways nutritional interventions can help mental health: by increasing healthy habits and reducing unhealthy ones. For the best outcome, we have to do both .
Research has shown the most support for two diets: the Mediterranean diet, which emphasises more healthy fats, and the DASH diet, which focuses on reducing sugar.
First of all, Try Mediterranean Diet:
A Spanish research study found that rates of depression tended to rise in men – specially smokers – as they got less folate. The same thing happened for women – especially those who smoked or didn’t exercise – but when they got less Vitamin B12.
Here, researchers are not sure which way the influence goes: do poor nutrient levels lead to depression, or does depression lead people to eat poorly. In either case, you can get both of these Vitamin B from foods in a Mediterranean diet.
Get our starch fix with whole grains and legumes.
Fill up on plenty of fruits and veggies.
Focus on eating fatty fish, like salmon or albacore tuna, in place of red meat.
Add in healthy fats, like raw nuts and olive oil.
Enjoy sweets in moderation.
The Mediterranean diet is more about what you’re adding in — fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, and fatty fish and olive oil (high in omega-3s).
- Take Omega- 3 Fatty Acids
Scientists noticed that people who don’t eat enough Omega 3s may have higher rates of major depressive disorder. On the other hand, a study shows that people who don’t often eat fish, a rich source of these fatty acids, are more likely to have depression.
Good sources of Omega – 3, including alpha linolenic acid, are Fatty Fish, Soybean Oil, Nuts, specially Walnuts, Dark Green Leafy Vegetables.
One study looked at 166 people who were clinically depressed, some being treated with medication. The researchers found that after 12 weeks of eating a modified Mediterranean diet, the participants’ symptoms were significantly better.
An earlier study from 2011, found that when medical students increased their omega-3 fatty acid intake, their anxiety reduced by 20 percent (though with no changes to depression), while in 2016, Spanish researchers found people who followed the Mediterranean lifestyle closest were 50 percent less likely to develop depression than those who didn’t follow the diet as well.
THE MERITS OF DASH DIET :
Embrace whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
Get protein from chicken, fish, and nuts.
Switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy.
Limit sweets, sugary drinks, saturated fats, and alcohol.
Alternatively, the DASH diet is about what you’re taking out, namely sugar.
A 2017 study that researchers led analysed the sugar intake of over 23,000 people. They found that men who ate the most sugar — 67 or more grams a day, which is 17 teaspoons of sugar (or just under two cans of Coke) — were 23 per cent more likely to develop depression or anxiety over five years compared to those in the bottom third who logged less than 40 grams a day (10 teaspoons).
A new research from Rush University Medical Centre (which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting) reports that among older adults, those who followed the DASH diet closely were less likely to develop depression over six-and-a-half years compared to those who followed a Western diet.
Going sugar-free to fight depression and anxiety
Simply removing sugar has been life-changing for us. Therefore, we don’t take any sugar in tea. Here sweets are famous and people used to have them. But we take it moderately. We noticed that our anxiety is less than before when we used to take sugar and sweets.
But during our deep anxiety and depression, we have a tendency to consume more sugar and sweets. I asked my wife, “how do you feel now?”
She said, “My moods would be up and down — mostly down. I had feelings of not being good enough, and some days I wanted to die. Then there was the anxiety to the point I couldn’t leave my house without becoming violently ill. P
It wasn’t until she realised how much it was affecting our family and that she wanted to get better for her kids that she started looking at alternative therapies. We started doing yoga and some breathing practice.
Finally, I found the book “I Quit Sugar.” Then and then, I collected the book from the book store.
At the time, we were eating packets of fried biscuits and cookies with tea in the morning and even in the afternoon and craving dessert before we even ate dinner.
However, we had to change our habit when my wife was diagnosed with the gallbladder. After a successful operation, we have changed our food habits. We take the advice of a nutritionist. She gives us a chart of a new menu schedule which we are now following seriously.
Eventually, a new way of eating consisted of lots of greens and salads, healthy fats, protein from meat, switching sweet dressings for olive oil and lemon juice, and limiting fruits to those with low fructose like blueberries and raspberries.
To me, giving up sweets wasn’t easy. In that first month of coming off sugar, I had to suffer from headaches and constipation.
But at the one-month mark, everything
changed. My energy levels picked up. I was finally sleeping. My moods weren’t
as low. I was happier, and the anxiety and depression just didn’t seem to be there.
Now, two-and-a-half years after going sugar-free, we have been able to win ourselves off our antidepressants. But It’s not for everyone, but this is what worked for me. I usually went to my Doctor ( Psychiatrist). She prescribed me very low doses of medications .
So if you’re considering stopping your antidepressants, work with your doctor to
create a tapering schedule. You should never stop antidepressant medications on
OTHER FOODS AND MENTAL HEALTH:
Since we don’t have all the answers, biologically, behind anxiety and depression, there’s no clear reason why changing our diet can change our mood.
But we do know a few things: Vitamins in the body help the function of enzymes that enable reactions such as the synthesis of serotonin, which plays an essential role in our happiness.
Meanwhile, too much sugar has been found to decrease a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is involved in the development of depression and anxiety.
There’s also emerging research that suggests that our gut plays an important role in mental health.
The microorganisms in our gut can communicate with the brain and several systems that could play a role in depression and anxiety, and the composition.
When we treat depression with medication, the actual ‘magical’ chemical ingredients matter maybe 15 per cent. It’s the process of working with a doctor and finding the motivation to recognise the problem and take steps towards fixing it that counts for most of the good.
We can get that much of the good in a non-medication intervention that includes diet, exercise, and talking to someone.
It’s really when you start taking care of yourself — which taking control of your diet certainly counts as — you get remobilization. Your spirits pick up and that’s an antidepressant.
Diet is a great way of active self-care and self-love — a key in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Nutritionists sometime prescribe it to treat anxiety and depression. I believe seeing oneself as worthy of self-care and therefore worthy of being fed with nutritious food is a great step.
Why certain foods are mood-boosting?
Some enzymes found in food boost serotonin levels.
Sugar is associated with depression and anxiety.
Emerging science shows gut health plays a role in anxiety.
So, Eating healthy foods is a great way to practice self-care, important in CBT.
Taking active steps to eat a nutritious diet can increase motivation.
WHICH FOODS WE SHOULD TAKE?
- SMART CARBOHYDRATES :
There is a link between carbohydrates and the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. Scientists are not sure, but carb cravings sometimes may be related to low serotonin activity.
We should wisely choose carbs. Limit sugary foods and opt for smart carbs, such as whole grains, rather than simple carbs, such as cakes and cookies. Besides, fruits, vegetables, and legumes also have healthy carbs and fibres.
- KEEP SELENIUM – RICH FOODS IN DIET :
Moreover, Some scientists have suggested that increasing selenium intake might help improve mood and reduce anxiety, which may help make depression more manageable.
Selenium is present in a variety of foods, including:
organ meats, such as liver
Supplements are available for purchase in health food shops.
- PROTEIN – RICH FOODS CAN BOOST YOUR ENERGY LEVELS:
- FOODS RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS:
- HAVE A LITTLE DARK CHOCOLATE
- VITAMIN B- 12 AND B -9 :
Vitamins B-12 and B-9 (folate, or folic acid) help and maintain the nervous system, including the brain. So, they may help reduce the risk and symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.
Sources of vitamin B-12 include:
some fortified cereals
Foods that contain folate including :
dark leafy vegetables
fruit and fruit juices
meat and poultry
People can purchase vitamin B-12 and folate supplements in health food stores.
- KEEP ZINC IN YOUR DIET :
Zinc helps the body perceive taste, but it also boosts the immune system and may influence depression.
Some studies have suggested that zinc levels may be lower in people with depression and that zinc supplementation may help antidepressants work more effectively.
Zinc is present in:
beef, chicken, and pork
nuts and pumpkin seeds etc.
Try something new: Diet to rejuvenate our mental health
Add to your plate some new foods that have been linked to better brain health. This list is based on suggestions from Naidoo and Ramsey.
Leafy greens are the foundation of a brain health diet because they are cheap and versatile and have a high ratio of nutrients to calories.
• Colourful fruits and vegetables: The more colourful your plate, the better the food is for your brain.
• Seafood: Sardines, oysters, mussels, wild salmon and cod are sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for brain health. If you don’t eat fish, chia seeds, flax seeds and sea vegetables are also good sources of omega-3s.
Nuts, beans and seeds:
Try to eat between a half cup and a full cup of beans, nuts and seeds a day, Ramsey said. Nuts and seeds, including cashews, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, are a great snack, but they can also be added to stir-fry dishes and salads. Black and red beans, lentils and legumes can also be added to soups, salads and stews or enjoyed as a side dish.
• Spices and herbs: Cooking with spices not only makes your food taste better, but studies suggest certain spices may lead to a better balance of gut microbes, reduce inflammation and even improve memory. Naidoo especially likes turmeric; studies suggest that its active ingredient, curcumin, may have benefits for attention and overall cognition. “Turmeric can be very powerful over time,” she said.
• Fermented foods: Fermented foods are made by combining milk, vegetables or other raw ingredients with microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria. A recent study found that six servings a day of fermented foods can lower inflammation and improve the diversity of your gut microbiome. Fermented foods include yoghurt, kombucha and kimchi.
• Dark chocolate: People who regularly eat dark chocolate have a 70 per cent reduced risk of depression symptoms, according to a large government survey of nearly 14,000 adults.
In addition, Supplements are also available in health food stores and pharmacies.
Learn more about the health benefits of zinc here.
So, • eat at set intervals throughout the day.
- Dark Chocolate
- Choose less refined sugars and eat more whole grains
- Include protein at each meal
- Eat a variety of foods
- Include omega-3 rich foods, like oily fish, in your diet
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
- Get regular exercise
- Eat your Fruit whole
Dark Chocolate has chemicals called flavonoids that can make more blood flow to your brain and may help you think more clearly. But don’t overdo it. Because Chocolate also has fat and calories and lots of caffeine, too. Just a small square of the dark stuff — 70% cocoa or more — 2 or 3 times a week may be all you need.
AVOID PROCESSED FOODS:
If you eat lots of processed meat, fried food, refined cereals, candy, pastries, and high-fat dairy products, you’re more likely to be anxious and depressed. Therefore, a diet full of whole fibre-rich grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish can help keep you on a more even keel.
We all love them, and little treats now and then can help your mood. But just so you know: Doughnuts have all the wrong kinds of fats, snow-white flour with little fibre to slow absorption, and lots of added sugar. So, if you must, make them a treat, not a routine.
You should avoid some pre-packaged dressings and marinades loaded with sugar, often listed as high-fructose corn syrup. But what about light or sugar-free dressings? Some used to have their sweetness from aspartame, an artificial sweetener linked to anxiety and depression. So, check the ingredients, or it is better to make your dressing at home from scratch.
AVOID SKIPPING MEALS: DIET TO REJUVENATE OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Missing a meal, especially breakfast, can lead to low blood sugar. This will likely leave you feeling weak and exhausted.
CUTTING OUT ENTIRE FOOD GROUP:
If you reduce the variety of foods in your diet, it can be more difficult to get all the essential nutrients you need. Low levels of zinc, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with worsening mood and decreased energy.
AVOID EATING TOO MUCH REFINED CARBOHYDRATES:
Moreover, high intakes of unhealthy, processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries, cause blood sugars to rise and fall rapidly. And ultimately this can lead to low energy and irritability.
TRY TO AVOID ENERGY DRINK & ALCOHOL
Read more: Anxiety & Depression In Adolescent Girls