Fighting Depression With Food
Drug advertisements and conventional doctors tell the public that depression is
caused by an imbalance of a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin.
This idea makes it seem that drugs that flood the brain with serotonin are the
answer to depression, but there is no scientific evidence that drug therapy
really works. In studies in which scientists lowered serotonin levels to induce
depression, the experiment failed. Other studies found that dramatically
increasing serotonin levels in the brain failed to relieve depression. So why
do doctors persist in prescribing medications with side effects ranging from
mood swings to suicidal or homicidal behaviors when those drugs may not even
There are treatment options that can relieve depression without swallowing
pills. Many of the symptoms of depression can be directly linked to vitamin and
mineral deficiencies in the standard American diet, which is largely comprised
of empty carbs, caffeine and sugar. Depression, mood swings and fatigue often
have a common cause: poor nutrition. Avoiding depression or recovering from a
depressive episode is often as easy as changing your diet and boosting your
consumption of key foods that deliver brain-boosting nutrients and help
regulate brain chemistry.
The Five Foods For Beating Depression
Fish oils: Contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that depressed people
often lack a fatty acid known as EPA. Participants in a 2002 study featured in
the Archives of General Psychiatry took just a gram of fish oil each day and
noticed a 50-percent decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders,
unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts, and decreased sex drive.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular
health. Get omega-3s through walnuts, flaxseed and oily fish like salmon or
Another top food for delivering omega-3 fatty acids is chia, and we currently
recommend two sources for chia seeds:
Brown Rice: Contains vitamins B1 and B3, and folic acid. Brown rice is also a low-glycemic
food, which means it releases glucose into the bloodstream gradually,
preventing sugar lows and mood swings. Brown rice also provides many of the
trace minerals we need to function properly, as well as being a high-fiber food
that can keep the digestive system healthy and lower cholesterol. Instant
varieties of rice do not offer these benefits. Any time you see "instant" on a
food label, avoid it.
Brewer's Yeast: Contains vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Brewer's yeast should be avoided if you do not
tolerate yeast well, but if you do, mix a thimbleful into any smoothie for your
daily dose. This superfood packs a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals in
a small package, including 16 amino acids and 14 minerals. Amino acids are
vital for the nervous system, which makes brewer's yeast a no-brainer for
Whole-Grain Oats: Contain folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6 and B1. Oats help lower
cholesterol, are soothing to the digestive tract and help avoid the blood sugar
crash-and-burn that can lead to crabbiness and mood swings. Other whole grains
such as kamut, spelt and quinoa are also excellent choices for delivering
brain-boosting nutrients and avoiding the pitfalls of refined grains such as
Cabbage: Contains vitamin C and folic acid. Cabbage protects against stress, infection
and heart disease, as well as many types of cancers, according to the American
Association for Cancer Research. There are numerous ways to get cabbage into
your diet; toss it in a salad instead of lettuce, use cabbage in place of
lettuce wraps, stir fry it in your favorite Asian dish, make some classic
cabbage soup or juice it. To avoid gas after eating cabbage, add a few fennel,
caraway or cumin seeds before cooking. Cabbage is also a good source of
blood-sugar-stabilizing fiber, and the raw juice of cabbage is a known cure for
Also worth mentioning: Foods like raw cacao, dark molasses and brazil nuts (high
in selenium) are also excellent for boosting brain function and eliminating
depression. Get raw cacao and brazil nuts at Nature's First Law. Another source
for cacao is Navitas Naturals.
Things To Avoid
If you feel you are depressed or at risk for depression, you also need to avoid
certain foods and substances. Some commonly prescribed drugs -- such as
antibiotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, pain killers, ulcer drugs,
anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, anti-Parkinson's drugs, birth control pills,
high blood pressure drugs, heart medications and psycho tropic drugs --
contribute to depression. If you are taking any of these, don't quit them
without talking to your doctor; but be aware that they may be contributing to
your condition by depleting your body of depression-fighting vitamins and
You should also avoid caffeine, smoking and foods high in fat and sugar. Keeping
your blood sugar stable and getting B vitamins is important for stabilizing
your mood. Cacao can be good for mood because it releases endorphins in the
brain, but watch out for milk chocolate and candy varieties high in sugar.
Other Non-Food Things To Do
Get plenty of sunshine. Natural sunlight is a proven cure for depression.
Engage in regular exercise at least three times per week. Exercise lifts and
mood and alters brain chemistry in a positive way.
Experience laughter. It's good medicine.
Take a quality superfood supplement to get even more natural medicine from the
world of plants.