Diets to reduce depression

Patients, who are diagnosed with “depression”, often take medications to treat it. Many people though do not suspect that unhealthy diet reduces the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy for depression and further harms health.

Malnutrition causes fatigue and provokes disturbances in eating behavior. According to the clinical specialist, three main types of mental disorders exist that are associated with eating disorders:

• gluttony
• anorexia
• bulimia nervosa

Some nutritionists and psychiatrists claim that there is a fourth kind of eating disorders, which is less common than other three ones – night eating syndrome.

Eating disorders are characterized with radical changes to eating habits – from full starvation to consumption of huge amounts of food. Thus, not only the person’s nervous system suffers, but the entire body as a whole. In addition, eating disorders violate drug bioavailability that people take to reduce the depression.

A recent clinical study have confirmed that compliance with the plan of a healthy, balanced diet allows preserving mental health. To analyze the influence of diet on mental health, three types of nutrition were used:

• vegetarian
• balanced
• Mediterranean

Each of the nutrition plans has its own set of products, but all 3 diets include foods to reduce depression and anxiety, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, eggs and seeds.

All participants of the study were divided into three groups, each of which was following one nutrition plan. The results of the experiment showed that people who kept to the plan with the Mediterranean and balanced diet had the lowest risk of depression.

Scientists have long been aware that the habitants of the Mediterranean region suffer from depressive disorders less often, than people in the rest of Europe. The diet of the population around the Mediterranean is dominated by fish and seafood, which are rich in vitamins and microelements, beneficial for mental health.

The results of the studies suggest that depression increases the risk of the deficit of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids (including Omega-3). Thus, we can reduce depression, if we comply with at least the basic principles of a balanced diet.

Regular nutrition, adequate protein intake and administration of Omega-3 fatty acids provides a beneficial effect over the psychological state. Thus, the list of foods to help reduce depression includes meat, eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables. Proper and balanced nutrition not only provides a sedative effect, but also improves the functioning of other organs and body systems (especially the digestive system).

Constipation is a frequent complication of depressive conditions. Therefore, the daily diet should include products that improve intestinal motility, like cereal bran flakes, prunes, fruit, and vegetables.

Excessive consumption of certain foods (salt, sugar, chili pepper, garlic) promotes deterioration of the digestive system and a negative impact over the mental health. Carbonated beverages may cause hormone surge in the body and facilitate the emergence of anger and irritability.

Wholemeal bread contains a large amount of carbohydrates, which increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin and endorphins contribute to the improvement of mood and gradual disappearance of depression symptoms.

Proper nutrition is only an addition to the pharmacotherapy of mental disorders, yet there is no special diet to cure depression. To find out which foods are suitable to improve mental health, people should seek help from a dietitian or a nutritionist. They will help choose a meal plan, necessary to reduce depression in each individual patient.