Nutritional Therapy for Mental Well-Being
How Healthy Diet Helps Treating Depression
Written by Carrie Cusack
Executive Chef, Balance Treatment Center
Depression is something that many of us may face in our lifetimes. At Balance Treatment Center, we make comprehensive efforts in the treatment of depression. Hand-in-hand with the clinical treatment plan, we work to integrate a diet that is nutrient-rich and filled with healthful foods to assist in combating the effects of depression.
There are many key factors that affect mood in regards to food. When we experience certain nutritional deficiencies, our brains lose the ability to work to their fullest. Moods can be negatively altered and the human body is unable to grow and repair itself in a sufficient manner. When the body and mind are properly and consistently nourished, the brain will naturally produce chemicals that help in the fight against depression. Here are a few easy additions that can assist in boosting one’s mood.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3’s are also known as healthy fats. They are found in nuts, dark leafy green vegetables and oily fish such as salmon and sardines. Many studies show that a diet high in Omega-3’s help to combat depression. Studies have shown that individuals and entire societies that lack in the consumption of Omega-3’s have a greater risk of major depressive disorder.
Selenium is a trace element that is readily found in many natural foods. Seafood, legumes, nuts and low fat dairy products all contain selenium. Studies have shown that individuals with low selenium levels tend to be more anxious and depressed. It is recommended that adults ingest 55mg of selenium a day. By simply adding this small amount of the element, symptoms of anxiety and depression can decrease substantially.
Protein is brain food. Lean animal proteins such as tuna and chicken are filled with Omega-3’s, vitamins and amino acids. These amino acids work together to produce powerhouse energy and cognitive boosters such as creatine and carnosine. Protein assists in keeping the brain alert, energetic, motivated and working in its optimal capacity.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that allows all of the parts of the brain to communicate with one another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, some of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets. When the serotonin level drops in a person’s brain, the brain is unable to synapse properly and many mood affecting disorders can occur such as depression, OCD, anxiety and even anger issues.
By incorporating complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice, beans and fruit, serotonin levels can greatly increase. Glucose levels rise naturally and the mind is treated to a sense of calm.
Each and every day our body and brains are attacked by a barrage of free-radicals. Free radicals are molecules that damage our mind and physical being. One the greatest aids in combating free radicals is the addition of antioxidants into our diet. Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and flavonoids are all champions in the fight against free radicals. The options on food choices are limitless. Leafy green vegetables, stone fruit and sweet potatoes for beta carotene. Citrus, berries, tomatoes and peppers for vitamin C. Nuts, seeds and whole wheat for Vitamin E. Deeply hued, colorful fruits and vegetables and teas for flavonoids. Studies show that by incorporating antioxidant foods into one’s diet a significant drop in depression, stress and anxiety is achievable.