How Nutrition Can Lessen the Symptoms of Depression

Our human body is an amazing machine, and generally functions fairly well in spite of how badly we take care of ourselves and our overall health. While more and more often many people are beginning to understand the association between physical illnesses and nutrition, fewer understand the possible connection between depression and nutritional intake. Depression, whether in its mildest form, or a more severe form, is generally believed to be either emotionally based or due to the body’s chemical imbalance, however nutrition can have a significant role in persistent mood swings as well as the commencement, acuteness and length of more significant levels of depression. As one example, consider that those people who are following a diet which is extremely low in carbohydrates are subject to depression because the feel-good chemicals in the brain-serotonin and tryptophan-are triggered by foods which have high amounts of carbohydrates.

Vitamins And Moods

Anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac work by increasing serotonin production in the brain. Before you rush out to have a high-carbohydrate candy bar, however, remember that some people are much more sensitive to both the type and amount of specific carbohydrates eaten. Refined carbs such as sugar and sweet foods, will provide immediate relief, but it will be short-lived, and once the immediate high wears off you will find yourself searching for more food to increase your energy level and mood. Complex carbs, on the other hand, such as fruits and veggies and whole grains, will give you a less intense immediate effect on your energy levels, mood swings and overall brain chemistry, but will have a much more long-lasting effect.

Vitamin B deficiencies have also been linked to depression, especially in women as many of us have diets which are deficient in this particular vitamin. A less than optimum intake of the B vitamins, most especially B6, can produce mood swings and low energy levels. B6, like carbohydrates, play a role in serotonin production, and, in fact, many studies have confirmed that depressed people quite often show lower levels of vitamin B, B6 and serotonin. Women are especially vulnerable as HRT and oral contraceptives can wreak havoc on the body’s use of B6. A lack of folic acid can cause personality shifts and mild levels of depression as well, and can even contribute to poor memory issues. A deficiency in folic acid is very common in the United States, as folic acid is destroyed when we cook our foods, and is most abundant in leafy green vegetables which are hardly the most popular food group. Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc play key roles in the prevention of irritability, depression and mood swings, so a deficiency in any or all of these minerals can cause depression or worsen symptoms.

Food and the nutritional benefits derived from food play a major role in the maintenance of your mental health. It’s extremely important that you limit your consumption of sugary foods, make a habit of eating three regular meals per day, drink plenty of water, and include plenty of leafy green vegetables, bananas, avocados, chicken, and whole grains in your diet. Not only will your overall health improve, but you can possibly say goodbye to depression for good.

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