Depression is rated by the World Health Organisation as the leading cause of disease burden amongst high income countries. Depression is characterised by feelings of worthlessness or guilt, poor concentration, loss of energy, fatigue, thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with death, loss or increase of appetite and weight, a disturbed sleep pattern, slowing down (both physically and mentally), agitation (restlessness or anxiety).
Eat Fresh Foods
The fresher your food is, the more nutrients it will contain. Unlike processed foods that may be stripped of nutrients for a longer shelf life, fresh foods contain maximum nutrients. Eating in-season fruits and vegetables means they ripened naturally; Farmers’ markets are sometimes your best bet for finding fresh produce.
Your body runs off of what you feed it. And the best way to get the most out of your food is to make sure you’re giving yourself the best food possible.
Besides what you eat, when you eat can also impact your mood. Did you ever notice how you feel sluggish after a big lunch or dinner? That’s because your body is using its energy to digest that big meal instead of powering the rest of your body. The easiest way to avoid the post-meal coma is to eat smaller-portioned meals throughout the day. This will keep your body fueled regularly and may even help you lose weight.
Increase Intake Of B Vitamins
People with either low blood levels of the B-vitamin folic acid, or high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine (a sign that you are not getting enough B6, B12 or folic acid), are both more likely to be depressed and less likely to get a positive result from anti-depressant drugs. In a study comparing the effects of giving an SSRI with either a placebo or with folic acid, 61% of patients improved on the placebo combination but 93% improved with the addition of folic acid.
Bring On The Sunshine
Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, around 90% of our vitamin D is synthesised in our skin by the action of sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly being recognised as a common problem around the globe and may be implicated in depression, particularly if you feel worse in winter.
Up Your Intake Of Chromium
This mineral is vital for keeping your blood sugar level stable because insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, can’t work properly without it. In fact it turns out that just supplying proper levels of chromium to people with atypical depression can make a big difference.
Boosts Your Serotonin From Amino Acids
Serotonin is made in the body and brain from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is then converted into another amino acid called 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP), which in turn is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Just not getting enough tryptophan is likely to make you depressed; people fed food deficient in tryptophan became rapidly depressed within hours.Tryptophan can be found in the diet; it’s in many protein rich foods such as meat, fish, beans and eggs
Avoid Processed Foods
While a burger and fries might be comforting while you’re eating it, all that grease does nothing more than prevent hunger. Processed foods, such as canned foods high in sodium, candy, most packaged foods, boxed meals, and pre-cooked meals are typically full of preservatives, sodium, and other compounds that may slow you down.
Nuts are some of the best foods to beat fatigue and fight hunger. Nuts that provide energy include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. Eating raw, unsalted nuts provide the most energy because they contain the most nutrients. And they’re the perfect mid-afternoon snack.
Boost Your Omega-3
Omega-3 fats are called essential fats, because unlike some other substances, they can’t be manufactured within the human body, and therefore it is essential that you take them in through your diet. The richest dietary source is from oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, pilchards, herring, trout and fresh but not tinned tuna. Surveys have shown that the more fish the population of a country eats the lower is their incidence of depression. There are two key types of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA and the evidence suggests that it’s the EPA which seems to be the most potent natural anti-depressant.
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to hydrate your body. You don’t always have to have exactly eight glasses a day, but if you swap out sodas, coffee, and other drinks for a glass of water, you’ll feel better before you know it.
Being mindful of what’s on your plate can be a healthy and effective way to keep your energy up. With regular exercise and good nutrition, you can maintain healthy levels of energy during depressive episodes.