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Depression is a serious mental-health issue that will affect up to 6.5% of the population during their lifetime. The best way to treat depression is by combining mood-stabilising drugs and psychotherapy (usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). However, did you know that what you eat could boost your mood and help you beat this life-sapping disease? Here, we look at some great foods to eat everyday to help you beat depression.
These wonderful little nuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty-acids, which have been shown to boost brain function and reduce symptoms of depression. The human brain is approximately 80% lipids (fats), and there is evidence that low levels of omega-3 fatty-acids (alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid) are linked to Major Depressive Disorder.
Low levels of omega-3 fatty-acids have been linked to post-partum depression. A study of 380 Australian women found that increasing levels of docosahexaenoic acid by 1% was linked with a 59% reduction in symptoms of depression.
A separate study of 150 men age 50-69 years found lower rates of depression in men who had a diet higher in alpha-linolenic acid.
Mushrooms are great little mood-boosters for two reasons. First: they even out your mood by keeping your blood-sugars stable. Second: they promote healthy gut bacteria Our guts manufacture up to 90% of our body's serotonin (the happy, mood-boosting chemical), so that's an area of the body you need to look after.
Tomatoes have two wonder-nutrients: folate and alpha-lipoic acid. Both of these little nutrients help to fight depression. One-third of individuals with depression were found to be deficient in folic acid, which (by preventing excess homocysteine) helps support the release of dopamine, serotonin, an norephineephrine.
A recent study found that just 500mcg of folate has been linked to lover rates of depression. One medium tomato, two inches in diameter, has 18.4mcg of folate. Supplement your tomatoes with some chickpeas or lentils for a folate-filled meal.
ALA, meanwhile, is a potent antioxidant, which can be utilised by the nervous system. It's thought to prevent side effects associated with anti-psychotic medication.
Sardines are packed full of potassium, iron, and complex B vitamins, which have all been shown to maintain healthy brain chemistry. They are also chockfull of omega-3 fatty-acids, which - as we've already discovered - are vital for brain health and beating depression. A low-fat diet has been linked to a higher-risk of suicide.
Iron deficiency causes a lot of symptoms that may be mistaken for depression, including: fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration. Around 20% of women (and 50% of pregnant women) have iron deficiency, so it may be worth eating lots of iron-rich food if you feel depressed. Other good sources include red meat and poultry. If you can stomach it, the absolute best source for iron is liver.
A 2006 study drew links between potassium (the third most abundant mineral in the body) and serotonin levels. Serotonin is partially responsible for mood-regulation. It's thought that lower levels of potassium may make it difficult to regulate serotonin, contributing to the higher rates of depression and anxiety that are found in people with low potassium levels.