Depression is a serious condition that affects millions of people across the world. In fact, according to recent statistics, more than 7% of adults have been diagnosed with depression in 2023.
While various treatments are available, including medication and therapy, certain foods and diets have been found to relieve depression symptoms. These foods contain nutrients that can potentially help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve your overall mental health.
In this article, we’ll look at some foods known to have mood-enhancing effects and may help reduce depression.
1: Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as trout, sardines, salmon and small mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids have been linked with improved mood due to their anti-inflammatory effects on the brain.
These studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids help by boosting brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals help regulate mood and relieve depression symptoms.
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Raw olive oil
2: Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables, such as kale, swiss chard, and spinach, are rich in antioxidants, molecules that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that often cause oxidative stress, leading to inflammation and cell damage. This damage can contribute to depression and other mental health conditions.
Antioxidants reduce the risk of depression by protecting the brain against inflammation and oxidative stress.
Other foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Sunflower seeds
Avocado is a fruit rich in fibre, healthy fats and vitamins. One of the primary components of avocado is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that is said to have a positive impact on mental health.
Oleic acid is also found in other foods, such as:
- Olive oil
4: Fermented Food
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and other nutrients that can help improve gut health, which has been linked to improved mental health. Research has proven that a healthy gut microbiome has a positive effect on mental health.
Examples of fermented foods include:
These foods are packed with beneficial bacteria that help improve gut health, which is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being.
Beans are a perfect source of plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fibre, making them valuable to a balanced diet. They are also rich in minerals and vitamins that have been linked to improved mental health.
Beans can also help reduce depression by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Beans are a low glycemic index food, meaning they release sugar into the bloodstream slowly, preventing a sudden spike and crash in blood sugar levels. This helps stabilize mood and energy levels, reducing the risk of depressive symptoms.
6: Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a crucial function in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. However, vitamin D also helps in improving symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that there is a high probability that people with low vitamin D levels will suffer from depression at some point in their lives.
Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish like salmon or tuna fish
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
- Fortified milk
While a healthy diet alone may not be enough to treat severe depression, incorporating these foods into your diet can provide important nutrients and help support your overall mental health.
It’s important to remember that a healthy diet is just one piece of a larger puzzle when it comes to managing depression. Seeking professional help and support is essential for those struggling with mental health issues.