Depression, nutrition | July 14, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Depression is the second cause of disability in the world is thought to affect millions every year. In Australia, around 1 in 6 women and 1 in 8 men experience some level of depression.
Nutrition is highly connected with depression. Research shows that the Western Diet, characterised by high intake of processed or fried foods, refined grains, sugary products, and alcohol, is associated with the risk of developing depression. In contrast, a healthy diet - high in plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, olive oil and fish - reduces the risk of depression and can improve depressive symptoms.
Walnuts. These healthy nuts contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that are beneficial for our brain. Healthy male college students who consumed a walnut diet for 8 weeks in the form of banana bread with walnuts experienced improved mood. Interestingly though, female participants did not observe any mood changes.
Fish. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. The two main types of omega-3 fatty acid; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in very high concentration in the human brain and are involved in its function. Studies found omega-3 fatty acid concentrations to be lower in the blood of patients with depression, and intake of fish has been shown to improve symptoms of depression. Fish is also rich in tyrosine, a precursor of brain neurotransmitters that influence mood and stress, including dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
Dark chocolate. Chocolate makes people happy. Australian scientists found that polyphenols in cocoa increase sense of calmness and contentedness.In the study, seventy-two healthy adults received different doses of a dark chocolate drink. After 30 days, those who drank the highest dose reported greater calmness.
Fruit and vegetables. A study in four south Asian countries found that those who consumed less than five servings of fruit and vegetables per day were at higher risk of depression. Antioxidants, present in fruit and vegetables, protect us from oxidative stress and inflammation, both associated with depression. For highest levels of antioxidants, choose colourful fruits and vegetables such as dark leafy greens (e.g. spinach and kale), beetroot, blueberries, cherries, pomegranate, plus garlic, onions, and tomatoes.
Fermented foods (yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc.).
You have probably heard of the term ‘probiotics’ – the type of good bacteria defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.
Although the link between gut bacteria and the brain are not completely understood, studies found that patients with mood disorders have different composition of bacteria in their gut when compared with healthy controls. Naturally fermented foods and beverages contain probiotic microorganisms that have been associated with many health benefits, and can influence both the composition and diversity of your gut bacteria.
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