There is no question that what we eat influences how we feel. It also greatly impacts our health, especially our mental health. Diet (specifically how nutrients affect mood and behavior) is such an important aspect of mental health that it has inspired the development of an entire field of medicine/science called Nutritional Psychiatry. The most common mental health disorders include depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide. Depression is a serious mood disorder that can be mild to moderate with symptoms of apathy, little appetite, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, and fatigue. People who suffer from this condition may experience feelings of deep sadness, severe hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness.
How Diet And Depression are connected?
- A diet lacking in essential nutrients and/or high consumption of red meat, processed foods, refined carbs, sweets, high-fat dairy products and low intakes of fruits and vegetable associates with an increased risk of depression.
- A recent study found that participants significantly improved their mood and signs of depression by eating a more healthful diet that included fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. The study assessed 166 individuals, charting their progress during 12 weeks. At the end of the test period, the study concluded that eating a varied and balanced diet and/or making healthy dietary adjustments may provide an efficacious and accessible treatment for depression.
- Good nutrition can also greatly lower the risk of developing depressive symptoms in the first place.
Depression affects more women than men. Depression in women seems to be more prevalent during the four stages of menopause. According to a breakthrough study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet that is high in refined carbs (especially sweet foods) could lead to a major risk of depression in postmenopausal women. Specifically, this study looked at the types of carbs consumed, dietary glycemic index and the index of depression in more than 70,000 post-menopausal women. It was found that an increased consumption of dietetic fiber, vegetables, fruits and whole wheat grains was associated with a decreased risk index of depression.
Depression is a serious mood disorder that is the leading cause of disability. It is the most prevalent mental health disorder affecting women today. Don’t become a statistic. Many studies have found the correlation between a poor diet and depression. By adopting a diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, lean proteins, avoiding refined carbs and minimizing animal fats and processed meats, you are in effect decreasing your risk of depression. Changing unhealthy lifestyle patterns is hard but not impossible, start with your diet and then incorporate exercise and relaxation techniques.
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