If you have been feeling down, your diet could be more to blame than you might think. In fact, research has shown certain dietary imbalances can cause depression in an otherwise healthy person.
The research linking diet and depression is vast and dates back all the way to the 1950’s. Linus Pauling, winner of Nobel Prizes for Chemistry and Peace, was an advocate of mega-doses of vitamins for mental health and improving mood. He showed that many people have difficulty absorbing certain vitamins. This means that some people can eat the recommended amounts of vitamins, but have extremely deficient levels in their blood. If you are deficient in Niacin or other B-vitamins that alone is enough to make you depressed.
Deficiency Of Vitamin D:
Another vitamin deficiency that could be ruining your mood is vitamin D. Some experts estimate that up to 80% of Americans are deficient for vitamin D, and one of the main symptoms of deficiency is depression. The main way people get vitamin D is through sunlight. However, if you live north of Atlanta, it’s impossible to get any vitamin from the sun in the winter because the sun never gets high enough in the sky for the UVB rays to penetrate the atmosphere. Even in the summer, you have to get sun in the middle of the day with no sun block. This means without a supplement it is next to impossible to get enough vitamin D.
Deficiency Of Omega-3s:
Another possible dietary cause of depression is the highly publicized Omega-3 fatty acid. This is an extremely important fat that makes up a large percentage of your brain. Researchers have linked lack of Omega-3’s to depression in just about every way you can imagine.
- Nations with higher amounts of Omega-3 rich foods in their diets have less reported depression.
- People with depression have lower levels in their body.
- When a depressed person is given Omega-3’s, they get better just as fast as with drugs.
The most common recommendation for people feeling depressed is 3 grams of high-quality fish oil, but you can also get Omega-3’s from walnuts, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeks, hemp seeds or algae-based DHA.
Some Foods That May Cause Depression:
While many of us might eat “comfort foods” as a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down, there is some evidence that sugar and dairy contribute to depression. When the diets of several countries were compared, the ones that eat the most sugar and dairy had the most depression. Also, sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine in lab mice, and one of the main withdrawal symptoms is depression. There was one study that showed people who switched to a low-fat diet had significant decreases in depression and hostility.
Using alcohol is another common coping strategy that has been shown to do much more harm than good. Alcohol is a “depressant,” so maybe it is no surprise that it can make us depressed. One study showed that heavy drinkers who stop drinking have a dramatic decrease in depression. Another study showed that drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol interferes with depression treatment.
What Should I do?
If you are feeling depressed, there are mountains of research that say changing your diet can be just as effective as antidepressants in feeling better. Taking a vitamin supplement, taking Omega-3’s and cutting out alcohol, sugar and dairy could be just what you need to feel a lot happier.
Your Comments Please!!
Do you have any experience with diet and depression? Any questions? Please leave your comments below.
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