There are many factors behind depression, including those linked to diet. While changing your eating habits isn’t a guaranteed cure for mental health problems, doing so can still result in many benefits. Here's what to know about food if you have this condition.
How Can Nutrition Affect Your Mental Health?
The gut plays several important roles in physical health, including fighting germs and boosting immunity. The gastrointestinal tract also produces most of the body’s serotonin, the chemical that positively influences the hippocampus, or section of the brain that helps regulate mental health, memory, and learning. The brain-gut connection means that if you maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system, your mental and emotional health may improve.
Any diet that's high in sugar and bad fats is detrimental to your gut. A high-sugar diet has been shown to increase the risk of depression because it promotes inflammation, which can cause sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and a lower pain threshold. All of these issues can affect your mental health. Processed food also contributes to weight gain, which aside from potentially causing self-image and confidence issues, results in blood sugar instability. Irregular blood sugar levels cause irritability and mood swings.
What Are Some Foods to Eat & Avoid?
To take care of your body and mind, rely on whole foods, including berries that decrease inflammation and oats that stabilize blood sugar levels. Nuts and seeds are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that assists with serotonin production. Beans and lentils help your mental health as well due to their vitamin B content, which increases the production of mood-regulating serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Avoid anything in the simple sugar category, including sweet treats, white bread, alcohol, and soda. By following a nutrient-dense diet—such as the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in antioxidants, lean proteins, and healthy fats—you might see an improvement in the depression symptoms you experience.
If you need professional help for your depression, turn to Lexington Family Physicians. The practice has helped residents of Davidson County and the Triad areas of North Carolina enjoy radiant health since 1993. They offer nutritional counseling to help you make the right choices for your well-being. Call (336) 249-3329 to book an appointment, or learn more about their health services online. Get the latest office updates on Facebook.
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