Depression & Food

By Emma Mansfield

Depression affects not only the nervous system but thoughts, behaviours, and especially the way you eat, feel and your food choices. As food choices greatly influence and affect the brain and neurotransmitter behaviour it is important that sufferers of this condition are educated on the right choices.

Things to avoid:

• Sugars – these include lollies, cakes, sweets, fruit juices (unless freshly squeezed)

• Refined foods – fast foods, white breads, white pastas, white rice, and products made with white flour eg biscuits

• Coffee /caffeine – as it overstimulates the nervous system and causes blood sugar fluctuations potentiating depression

• Alcohol and nicotine – deregulates neurotransmitters

• Hydrogenated fats (cis and trans) or saturated fats – found in margarines, fast foods, deep fried foods and pies and pastries

• Artificial sweeteners (found mainly in ‘diet soft drinks’) – aspartame can possibly block serotonin formation especially if an individual is serotonin deprived or susceptibly to low amounts

• Artificial colours, flour enhancers and preservatives can exacerbate mood disorders (purchase the chemical maze to differentiate which additives and beneficial and which are harmful)

Things to include:

• Omega 3 fatty acid rich foods – they are an important component in your brain and neurotransmitters. They are found in deep sea fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds(linseeds) and the oils along with chia seeds.

• Organic/ biodynamic food choices are important as many chemicals and heavy metals can contribute and in server cases even cause depression.

• Whole grain’s or complex carbohydrates are essential for energy, neurotransmitter production, nervous system health, cardiovascular health, digestive function, helps regulate blood sugar levels and craving. They are found in oats, brown rice, wild rice or other grain which is in its whole form.

• Drink around 2ltrs of fresh clean water per day.

• Have adequate rest and enjoyable time and try to avoid stress.

• Exercise regularly as this increases endorphins.

• Keep and active mind and try to ‘re-route’ negative thoughts.

• Specific herbal and nutritional remedies are also available, along with more diet and lifestyle advice.