Like everyone else, people with depression feel their best when they consistently eat a healthy, balanced diet. For those with depression, good nutrition may help improve mood and lessen symptoms of depression. Eating a healthy diet can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower your risk for developing diabetes.
Some popular diets may contain toxic levels of some nutrients or dangerously low levels of others. Always consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.
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There is no specific diet for depression, but some physicians and researchers studying the effects of nutrition in people with depression recommend a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, and unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fat may help fight inflammation as well as heart disease. Choose foods high in unsaturated fat, plus vegetables and fruit. Unsaturated fat is plentiful in walnuts, pecans, flaxseed, canola and olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, lake trout and sardines. These foods are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. If you have heart disease, ask your doctor how much and what kind of fats are appropriate for you to eat.
Antioxidants are nutrients that may help prevent cancer and reduce inflammation. Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Foods such as cantaloupe, citrus, tomatoes, mango, pineapple, and berries are especially rich in Vitamin C. Fresh produce is also often high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and lower in calories. Eat as many of these foods as possible.
Foods that are processed or refined, and those high in sugar or saturated fats, give you a temporary high-energy buzz, but quickly lead to a crash that can exacerbate depression. Whole-grain products are less refined and processed. Make the switch from white bread to whole-grain, from white rice to brown rice, or from regular pasta to whole-grain pasta. Always check labels to make sure products are whole-grain. When choosing protein sources, avoid red meat and full-fat dairy, which contain saturated fats, and choose leaner meats such as chicken and fish and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Similarly, cooking with olive oil instead of butter replaces saturated fats with unsaturated fats.
Studies have indicated that drinking beverages containing alcohol and caffeine can worsen depression. Consider limiting your intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
Deficiencies of some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and selenium are associated with mood disorders. Ask your doctor whether you might benefit from taking vitamin supplements.
You may have food allergies or other reactions to certain foods that exacerbate your depression whenever you eat them. If you suspect you have problems with certain foods, begin keeping a food journal that tracks what you eat and how you feel each day. You can also ask your doctor for an allergy test.
Eating a nutritious diet can help you decrease depression symptoms, avoid developing related diseases, and maintain optimal health.
Multiple studies have found that people who eat a nutritious, balanced diet are less likely to report being depressed and to develop chronic diseases.
You may feel disappointed to give up favorite foods. However, think of diet changes as a chance to explore unfamiliar foods and find new favorites.
Depression symptoms such as fatigue may make it harder to find the energy to prepare fresh, healthy meals instead of choosing processed options.
Depending on where you live, it may be harder to get to a grocery store with a good selection of produce and other healthy foods.
To read more, visit:
Can a junk food diet increase your risk of depression? – Mayo Clinic
Healthy Eating for Depression – Healthline
Diet and Depression – Psychology Today