A holistic, integrative mind-body approach to depression includes a focus on diet and nutrition. Because the mind and the body are inextricably linked, the foods and beverages you put into your body directly impact your mood.
The new biology of depression has shown the substantial role that our gut health plays in terms of depression. While the old science focused on depression in the brain, new research has shown that depression is far more linked to the gut than previously believed. In fact, 90% of serotonin (the neurotransmitter most often implicated in regard to depression) is produced in the gut. Furthermore, a recent study found that probiotics were as effective as Prozac for treating depression. (Click here to learn more about the gut-brain axis and how depression could be a result of your diet.)
Read on for a list of the “Depression Diet Do’s & Dont’s”:
Foods to Eat:
- Foods rich in antioxidants: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato, margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, & wheat germ;
- Complex carbs: whole grains, fruits, vegetables & legumes
- Protein-rich foods: poultry, fish, lean beef, beans and peas
- Foods rich in B-vitamins: legumes, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables and all lean & low-fat animal products
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: fatty fish, flaxseed, canola and soybean oils, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Refined Grains
In addition to diet, sleep and exercise have been found to be critical for our mental health. While Western medication and/or therapy can be extremely helpful for managing depression, don’t discount the role that you – and your food choices! – make in regard to your mental health.