15 Foods to cure depression
In China, from the time immemorial, foods have been viewed as medicine. But in Western cultures it’s a relatively new line of research. Today, medical doctors and modern scientists agree with the ancient wisdom and have proved that certain foods can cure depression and certain foods can cause it.
An unhealthy diet might make you depressed, and depression, in turn, makes you feel even sicker. However, if your typical dinner consists of a lean meat, baked potato, and lots of vegetables, you are at much lower risk to get it (smile).
What actually “depression” stands for?
Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. According to Mayo Clinics, depression (also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a mental disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
Reasons that can cause depression
There are no specific genes that can be traced to depression. There are 4 categories of reasons that can cause depression: illness and health issues; medication and drugs; alcohol and personality. Today, depression is a common mental illness and the leading cause of disability worldwide.
About 300 million people worldwide have depression
According to WHO, depression is very common. It affects about 4% of the population – nearly 300 million people worldwide. Depression is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Over 700000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
Why food affects your mood?
It’s a common knowledge that foods affect your mood, but why and how? Scientists suggest that a major pathway might be through the gut-brain connection. When people eat a plant-heavy diet rich in fiber, the fiber ferments in the gut by bacteria. Through different biochemical reactions, diverse gut bacteria produce various chemicals including short-chain fatty acids and neurotransmitters.
How food affects your mood?
Fatty acids regulate the immune system and influence gene expression in the brain. Inflammation increases the risk of depression and other diseases by harming the lining of the blood vessels. Healthy fats increase the production of proteins called neurotrophins, which promote the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. Researchers have found a strong link between the quality of people’s diets and the size of their hippocampus.
Neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, melatonin, norepinephrine, and GABA – play a key role in mood. By the way, many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds.
15 Foods to cure depression
Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods in the world. Salmon is very rich in 4 nutrients that fight depression and support mental health: omega-3 fatty acids, amino acid tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin), vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and promote healthy brain function, as well as regulates neurotransmitters – when you’re feeling tense or stressed, these acids help keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking, thereby reducing anxiety. Salmon also contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which protects the brain and nervous system.
Foods for depression must include animal products rich in the amino acid tyrosine and amino acid tryptophan, which are required for the synthesis of three neurotransmitters at once: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These “hormones of happiness” are responsible for mood, vigor, a feeling of being energetic and successful. Poultry is an excellent source of lean protein rich in tryptophan and tyrosine. Turkey and chicken breasts stabilize glycemic levels, keeping you in a good mood throughout the day.
Cabbage, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, and alfalfa sprouts are rich in folic acid, which is required by the brain to produce serotonin. Its deficiency in food can lead to a decrease in mood, chronic fatigue and other signs of depression. “Folic acid lowers blood homocysteine levels,” recalls Joy Bauer, nutritionist and author of Food Heals. “This, among other things, improves memory.”
Meat is extremely important for depression because it is rich in vitamin B12. “It is now becoming clear that many neurological and psychiatric symptoms can also be caused by a deficiency of this substance. For example, wobbly movements, muscle weakness, spasms, dementia, psychosis, and depression. Moreover, these disorders occur when the level of vitamin B12 is only slightly below the norm,” explains Mary Diane Delva, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at Kingston University.
The title brassica (also called cruciferous vegetables) stands for veggies from the Brassica genus, or cabbage family: obviously cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. All these vegetables have a little known phytochemical called sulforaphane. Emerging research has shown a notable impact of sulforaphane on depression. It has been found that a diet rich in brassica vegetables is associated with better mental health, fewer symptoms of depression, stress, and overall negativity. People who eat enough brassica veggies are generally happier than those who eat fewer or none.
Lean organ meats are good sources of numerous vitamins and minerals, including many of the including vitamins A, B6, B9, B12-Vitamins, iron, and zinc. Liver is the most nutrient dense organ meat with a favorable omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratio, which promotes a healthy inflammatory response. All these nutrients are responsible for happy hormones synthesis. Chronic inflammation has been found to be associated with depression and other mood disorders. If you’re craving organ meats, you likely have an iron or zinc deficiency or have low stomach acid.
Cocoa beans contain a group of polyphenols that reduce anxiety and calm the mind. This was confirmed by a study by the Center for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University in Melbourne (Australia). Chocolate is rich in tryptophan – precursor of happy hormones production. Dark chocolate helps in the treatment of depression, boosts brain functioning and also improves well-being. A bar of chocolate that is 70-85% cocoa contains 11 grams of fiber, 89% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) of copper, 98% of manganese and 67% of iron. Chocolate also has invigorating caffeine so you can wake up from your hibernation and get into action. No wonder, hot chocolate is the most popular drink in the winter and fall.
Blueberries are a natural antidepressant product that tastes amazing. It turns out that these tiny berries are full of antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals that damage cells and reduce a risk of depression. Blueberries have the same effect as valproic acid, a drug that stabilizes mood and regulates emotions. They also normalize cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and even improve brain cognition. Finally, the berry contains vitamin C, which is useful in reducing the negative effects of stress.
We consider sunflower seeds superfood because they have 9 essential nutrients at an excellent value. People who eat them on a daily basis have better overall health.
- Super rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant – 78%DV
- Super rich in vitamin B1 – 48%DV
- Fantastic in vitamin B6 – 31%DV
- Rich in magnesium, manganese and phosphorus – 30%DV
- Rich in vitamins B3 and B9 and phytosterols – 19%DV
Sunflower seeds are a natural way to prevent depression
Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium – a serving of 6 nuts supplies 774% of its Daily Value (DV)! Selenium plays an important role in the nervous system, including the brain. Within the brain, selenium protects against oxidative stress and inflammation and increases happy hormones production. Selenium has been scientifically proven to prevent depression and anxiety. Published in the Frontiers in Nutrition in 2021, a case-control study with 1,494 women aged 20–89 years reported that dietary intake of lower selenium was associated with an increased risk of developing major depressive disorder. Snack on two or three Brazil nuts per day! Deviation from the optimal content of dietary selenium, both above or below may cause multiple health abnormalities.
Pumpkin seed are an excellent addition to your diet when fighting depression. They provide you with tryptophan – an essential amino acid that boosts serotonin production. Serotonin produces your happiness, and tryptophan produces serotonin. The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight: a person weighing 70kg (about 154 pounds) should consume approximately 280mg of tryptophan per day. Pumpkin seeds are super rich in tryptophan – 576mg of tryptophan per 100g (206% DV), or 16mg/oz (58% DV), more than in meat (lamb, beef, pork contain 415mg of tryptophan per 100g – 148% DV).
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Israel) found two substances in grapes – dehydrocaffeic acid and malvidin-3-O-glucoside that can effectively help to treat and protect against stress-induced depression. “They simultaneously suppress peripheral inflammation in the brain and modulate synaptic plasticity (the point of contact between two neurons),” said Professor of Neurology, Giulio Maria Pasinetti.
Eggs are packed with essential nutrients that can manage depression: amino acid tryptophan, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, B, E and D. Eggs are a favorite staple of athletes and bodybuilders. However, you should be aware of the way eggs are prepared to get the full health benefit. Boiled and poached eggs are the healthiest ways to cook them without adding any fat like when they are fried.
Tomato is an antidepressant anti-anxiety product. It contains a lot of folic acid and alpha lipoic acid, which are good at fighting depression and anxiety. Folic acid prevents the body from producing excess homocysteine, which limits the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Alpha lipoic converts glucose into energy and stabilizes mood.
Mushrooms contain essential amino acid ergothioneine, an antioxidant that help prevent several mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
Similar to probiotics, mushrooms promote healthy gut bacteria. And since the nerve cells in the gut produce 80-90% of serotonin – the most important neurotransmitter that keeps us sane and happy – we can’t afford to ignore our gut health.
Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine used data on diet and mental health collected from more than 24,000 U.S. adults between 2005 and 2016. They found that people who ate mushrooms had lower odds of having depression.