Depression

Depression is a very real issue for many people, affecting family and work life.  Dr. Mercola writes an interesting article on some of the side effects of antidepressants. Antidepressants can provide invaluable benefit in helping someone through a difficult time, but it is important to know that food and nutrition may play a very important role in mental outlook and ability to cope with life. You can read Dr. Mercola's full article here http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/14/antidepressants-cause-heart-disease.aspx?e_cid=20120414_DNL_art_1 but I have taken the liberty of re-listing some of his main points on nutritional support for depression together with my own comments:

 

  • Dramatically decrease your consumption of sugar (including fructose), refined grains, and processed foods. (In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.)

    There's a great book on this subject, The Sugar Blues, written by William Dufty more than 30 years ago, that delves into the topic of sugar and mental health in great detail.

  • Increase consumption of probiotic foods, such as natural yogurt, to promote healthy gut flora. Mounting evidence tells us that having a healthy gut is profoundly important for both physical- and mental health, and the latter can be severely impacted by an imbalance of intestinal bacteria.
  • Ensure you are getting adequate B vitamins in your diet with nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes and eggs.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through regular sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important for your mood. In one study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levelsx.

    The best way to get vitamin D is through exposure to SUNSHINE. Remember, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that we know is related to sunshine deficiency, so it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize your vitamin D is through sun exposure.

  • Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Many people don't realize that their brain is 60 percent fat, but not just any fat. It is DHA, an animal based omega-3 fat which, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental healthxi. Include plenty of oily fish in the diet, such as mackerel, sardines, herrings, pilchards and salmon. You may want to take a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.

    Dr. Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist, was one of the early leaders in compiling the evidence supporting the use of animal based omega-3 fats for the treatment of depression. He wrote an excellent book that details his experience in this area called The Omega-3 Connection.

  • Get adequate daily exercise, which is one of the most effective strategies for preventing and overcoming depression. Studies on exercise as a treatment for depression have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. So there's a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.
  • Get adequate amounts of sleep. You can have the best diet and exercise program possible but if you aren't sleeping well you can easily become depressed. Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression.

 

These points are just a start.  Nutrient imbalance, food and environmental allergies, gut-yeast over-growth can all contribute to depression. Ensuring that the diet is providing all necessary nutrients for the health of the body and mind is foundational in Nutritional Therapy, so if you are struggling with depression it may be that some fundamental diet changes may help. Email me to see if nutrition may help your own story.