When people consider mental health, they usually think about things like medication and therapy. But for a growing number of medical professionals, nutrition is becoming a major focus and there are treatments that incorporate diet and depression. After all, the brain is the hub of all activity in the body, and if it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it won’t work as well. The growing field of Nutritional Psychology studies this important interaction between mental health and diet.
How Do Foods Affect Depression?
A healthy diet provides the nutrients our bodies need for energy, repair, and detoxification processes, which all affect the function of the brain. A poor diet has been shown to lead to inflammation, which not only makes you feel achy and tired, but it also causes physical stress in the brain.
Another important way food plays a part in mental health is in the intestine, where approximately 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is made. This vital neurotransmitter affects mood, sleep, appetite, and even pain perception. The collection of bacteria that lives in the intestine, known as the gut biome, has been shown to affect this serotonin production. Nutritious diets that include a healthy amount of fiber support the growth of helpful bacteria, while diets that are high in sugar and unhealthy fats help the bad bacteria thrive.
What Diet Can Help With Depression?
Avoiding fast food and highly processed foods and eating a generous amount of fruits and vegetables is a great way to boost your nutrition and care for your gut biome. Try to increase healthy fats from foods such as nuts and fish, while cutting back on saturated fat. Removing excess sugar from your diet can not only benefit your health directly, but also reduce the extreme blood sugar fluctuations that make it hard to stick to an eating plan.
If you are struggling with depression, what you eat can be another way to care for yourself. Women, in particular, seem to respond well to changes in diet for mental health well. As with many health issues, diet is not the only approach and depression can be treated from multiple angles from exercise and meditation to other forms of self-care.
If you aren’t sure where to start with improving your diet and depression is a struggle, come see us at Apollo Medical Associates. We specialize in functional medicine, medical weight loss, and hormone replacement services. Our compassionate medical professionals are committed to helping you find the answers you’re looking for, so you can experience energetic good health – in both body and mind.
For more information or to make an appointment, contact us today.