The human being is a large and complex biochemical system. Our cells are composed of substances and depend on interacting with many other elements for perfect functioning. When we understand this principle, we realize how much we eat interferes with our health, and consequently, it is also possible to establish a relationship between depression and food.
Think about the following: the contents of our plate are not only used to satisfy hunger. It is through food that we offer the body a set of nutrients necessary for its proper functioning. When adequate food provides these substances in the ideal amount to keep the system in balance. The result is health.
But does food also play an important role in maintaining mental health? What is the influence of the composition of our dish on a depressive condition, for example? That’s what you’ll discover in this article. So, read on!
What Is The Relationship Between Depression And Eating?
Generally, people do not naturally associate depression and eating. More conventional treatment includes medication and psychotherapy. However, recent studies have shown a close relationship between what we eat and our mental state. See some examples!
Stress And Mood-Boosting Foods
A survey carried out in Great Britain analyzed the habits of 200 people. In 88% of cases, the change in diet alleviated symptoms of mental disorders such as panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.
From that study, the researchers classified foods into “stress boosters,” which make our mind function worse, and “(good) mood boosters,” which improve our mental state.
However, it is important to note that mood-enhancing foods do not necessarily give us a feeling of well-being. Sugar, caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol, which are generally used to relax, provide comfort, or relieve PMS symptoms, are the main stress promoters.
Mood-enhancing foods are extremely simple. The researchers were able to establish that the consumption of water, vegetables, and fruits improves our mental state and brain functioning. Therefore, they act as important factors in combating depression.
Depression And Nutrition In The Fight Against Chronic Inflammation
There is yet another factor that narrows the relationship between depression and eating. According to psychiatry and medical psychology professors, people with mental disorders are also in a state of chronic systemic inflammation.
Therefore, he claims that dietary changes are necessary to correct inflammation related to psychiatric illness. In this way, it is possible to avoid triggering depression or even to get out of the crisis by using nutrition as one of the main allies in this recovery process.
What Is The Ideal Diet To Avoid And Fight Depression?
Going back to the study carried out in Great Britain, the researchers point out that the best foods to combat depression are the simplest ones, such as fruits and vegetables. This is why they occupy a large part of our plate, with their diversity of colors and flavors.
And why so much emphasis on vegetables? This is because of the amount of nutrients and vitamins these foods have. Research has demonstrated the role of a range of vitamins and minerals in treating people with mental disorders and psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, autism, and fatigue, among other medical conditions.
This is one of the explanations for the emphasis on vegetables as nutritional resources to combat depression. Unlike many industrialized products, which have a lot of calories and few nutrients, the varied consumption of greens, vegetables, and fruits guarantees the supply of vitamins and minerals that our body needs.
Other studies also relate vitamin C levels to our mood, highlight the importance of omega 3 for mental health, advocate keeping unrefined carbohydrates on the menu, and consume fiber and flavonoids to improve cognition and combat mental disorders.
Therefore, just apply two basic principles for healthy eating:
- remove from the menu products that cause inflammation and impair mental functioning, such as sugar, saturated or industrialized fats, sweetened drinks, and meat (especially red);
- base the menu on greens, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and natural sources of good fats, such as coconut, avocado, and flaxseed (and not the oils derived from these foods).
How Important Is It To Change Your Diet To Fight Depression?
It is important to emphasize that food is not the only resource to combat depression. This disease has multiple genetic, biological, and psychological causes. However, food is one of the factors that trigger the problem.
As our clinical team always points out, we must adopt a new lifestyle and adapt our habits to health factors: water consumption, fresh air, physical exercise, sunlight, balance, rest, faith, and spirituality.
Therefore, full health — including in the mental sphere — involves a change of habits. Among these aspects, food plays an extremely important role.