25- Dec-2020

Top 8 Diet Tips to beat Depression

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Dt. Kamna Desai
Dt. Kamna Desai
- Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics & Hospital Food Service.
- Certified Diabetes Educator

Experts suggest following a healthy well-balanced diet to help beat depression, anxiety. Read on to know more about the top 8 diet tips.

Depression is a severe mental disorder that affects a person's day-to-day activities. It is essentially a mood disorder where emotions of sadness, helplessness, negativity, grief, hopelessness, loss, overtakes a person's mindset to an extent that there is no motive to live life. There maybe partial or complete social withdrawal. Depression is lack of ability to cope up mentally. It is known that serotonin and dopamine levels are primarily low in depressed individuals and that is why a healthy diet could play a major role here in boosting their levels. Serotonin and Dopamine are neurotransmitters that regulate mood, pleasure, pain, sleep, and appetite. Practice these 8 amazing diet tips to beat depression easily.

1.Have Protein & Phosphatidylserine

Serotonin is synthesized from dietary tryptophan therefore a diet low in tryptophan can lead brain serotonin levels to drop. Also, the precursor to dopamine is phenylalanine, tyrosine and L-DOPA,hence a diet rich in amino acids (i.e. proteins) is important. Eating enough proteins like milk, cottage cheese, curd, soya, tofu, eggs, meat, peas, beans, etc. provide the body with essential amino acids which act as precursor to serotonin and dopamine. Phosphatidylserine (phospholipid component) present in protein rich foods like organ meats, eggs, soybeans, white- beans and milk is known to play an important role in regulating mood and managing depression in older people. One can also take phosphatidylserine supplements to save time, available in capsules form in market. Phosphatidylserine or PS supplements also helps to relieve stress and anxiety.

2. Do not undermine Fruits & Vegetables

Incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet ensure uptake of vital nutrients which increases your oxytocin (love hormones) levels naturally. Consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily helps maintain optimum physical and mental health. Fruits like apple, banana, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, orange, avocados, strawberries, blueberries contain nutrients that body can convert into mood boosting chemicals. Vegetables like carrot, dark leafy veggies (spinach, kale, collards), lettuce, cucumber, pepper, broccoli and cabbage contain beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate which have brain boosting chemicals to fight depression. Plant-based diets in general are known to reverse symptoms of depression.

3.Get Nutty with Nuts

Nuts and Oilseeds are an excellent combination of Vitamin E, Omega – 3, fiber and antioxidants and are known to reduce risk for depression. Adding handful of nuts (like walnuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts) and seeds (like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, flaxseeds) to your diet plan is good for mental health. These nuts & seeds have an edge when it comes to beating depression as they have omega 3’s. Again, most nuts & seeds also contain tryptophan which is the predominant precursor to serotonin.

4.Water - saviour of life

Adequate levels of hydration will help alleviate many causes of mood volatility. Drinking enough water can clear mental fog and gain mental clarity. Water is also known to reduce anxiety since it has natural calming properties. When dehydrated body’s ability to detoxify is impaired which can cause temporary shortage of tryptophan. Severe and prolonged dehydration can cause or aggravate depression. Hydration with 10-12 medium size glasses of water is important to beat depression. Similarly,2-3 cups of Green tea can provide sufficient L-theanine. L-theanine elevates levels of GABA as well as serotonin and dopamine which regulates mood. It is also known to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety.

5.Say NO to Sugar

It is no secret that sugar is bad for our physical health, but it is equally detrimental to our mental health. Sugar causes rapid rise in insulin. More insulin means neurotransmitter imbalance and reduced levels of serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Multiple studies have found a strong correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain functions, mood disorders such as depression. Avoiding sugar in this case would mean not just table sugar but avoiding all derivatives of sugar be it dextrose, corn syrup, caramel, cane sugar, honey, blackstrap molasses, invert sugar, agave nectar, maltodextrin, etc. is crucial to beat depression.

6. Unlock the power of Omega 3 fats

Fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout are full of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3's are one of the most revered compounds when it comes to mental health. Fishes being the richest source of Omega 3, most vegetarian diets lack in them and hence the need for fish oil supplements. Research proves that Omega-3 fatty acids can work as an effective therapy for mood disorders ranging from mild to major depression (including postpartum depression). They are also known to improve brain function and reduce inflammation. For people who don’t consume fishes, fish oil supplements are imperative. Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 (EPA/DHA) and has multiple brain health benefits including checking of depression.

7. Nurture your Gut

Gut friendly food mainly probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber rich diet promote a healthy digestive tract and makes one less prone to depression. Gut is now known as the 'second brain' as it has many nerve endings. There is a direct connect between what you eat, your gut bacteria and how you feel. The good bacteria in the gut are capable of secreting serotonin and dopamine. Research confirm that depression risk was significantly reduced by regular consumption of probiotic rich foods hence adding fermented foods like yoghurt/curd to your daily diet is beneficial in maintaining the gut microbiome and eventually mental health.

8. Stay away from processed foods

Avoid processed foods as they are loaded with chemicals viz. additives, preservatives, flavor's, and colours. Eating loads of processed foods, ready-to-eat, fried foods, processed meat, junk and refined foods, one is more likely to be anxious and depressed. Several studies have found that people who eat a poor quality of diet were more likely to report symptoms of depression. Limit alcohol consumption too. As against the common perception, drinking alcohol does not help one cope with their emotions, it could in fact, make one feel more depressed. Avoiding all these as much as possible could ease depression to some extent.

Experts believe that eating nourishing food loaded with loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help protect the brain from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Needless to mention that a healthy balanced diet can help boost your mood and regulate your hormones. Just Incase, someone is already suffering from depression like symptoms, seek professional help and try to incorporate these simple diet tips.

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