Many have heard the question posed what came first, the chicken or the egg? But how does that concept apply to depression? It’s well-known that when we’re depressed, our motivation and interest in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet subsides in the same way our energy does. Harvard Medical Students positioned that same question in relation to depression; what came first, depression or a poor diet?
Thankfully, researchers have addressed this question and found that a healthy diet was indeed associated with a significantly decreased risk of developing depressive symptoms. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, patients were treated for two years with antioxidants or placebos. After two years, those who were treated with antioxidants had a significantly lower depression score.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Eating healthy foods gives you a better chance to reduce your depressive symptoms than eating a diet of processed food that may be high in sugars and fats.
Additionally, it’s known that there are approximately 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells in the body. These bacteria serve many purposes including the curation of Vitamin K, digesting the food we consume and even regulating our immune system.
This implies that maintaining a healthy gut bacteria and overall diet can improve your mood.
SO, WHAT SHOULD I EAT?
Suggested foods to eat are lots of green leafy plants (including fruits and vegetables), whole unprocessed grains, seeds & nuts, and lean proteins such as yogurt or fish. To break them down even further, take note of the following foods and their purpose (all of which fight depression):
Inflammation: Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Berries, Mushrooms and Onions.
Mood Boosting & Omega 3: Walnuts, chia seeds, Fish (salmon, tuna and sardines), and even certain brands of egg or yogurt.
Oleic Acid: Avocado, cheese, pasta and meats such as chicken, beef or pork
Antioxidants: Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are some of the highest antioxidant foods available to us. Other foods include sweet potato, oranges, and peppers.
Folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid: Tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and brussels sprouts.
WHICH FOODS SHOULD I AVOID?
Avoid foods made with added sugars or flours such as baked goods (donuts and pastries), breads, pastas and cereals. One should also minimize the consumption of animal fats, processed meats such as bacon, and even butter.
OTHER ITEMS TO CONSIDER
It’s important to remember that health starts from within. Maintaining a healthy balance of self-care, such as providing yourself with adequate sleep, hydration and physical activity is just as important as eating well.
There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that supports the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Having balanced health helps with everything from cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer and even mental health disorders including- you guessed it – depression!
Don’t forget! Schedule an acupuncture appointment with me if you have any questions about depression and how traditional chinese medicine can help.