Bharathi I am a Medical Student with a passion for writing and a thirst for knowledge.

Depression – A Study On How Foods Can Help With It?

4 min read

Have you heard people or yourself say, Oh! man, this week has been really depressing with all this stress from work, my personal problems, and other stuff. What have you done to change such situations? Or one might still be experiencing such weeks, now and then. Well, good news! you have come to the right place. Yes, Here we are gonna discuss the topic of depression and how we can help ourselves to relieve from it.

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1. What Is Depression?

It is a mood disorder, that affects the way you think (cognitive function), feel (mess with emotion), and your actions. It increases anger which turns you sad and become hopeless.

Some may have minor depression, while some may suffer a major depressive disorder (MDD).

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2. What Is The Science Behind Depression?

A chemical imbalance in the brain that is caused by the change of the number of neurotransmitters either too much or too little.

These neurotransmitters facilitate communication between the nerve cells. But, the most important point to notice is, its always a fifty-fifty percent.

It still remains unsolved, that how this neurotransmitter chemical imbalance occurs in the first place.

Researchers suggest that factors like stress, trauma, genetics, biochemical reactions, and hormonal imbalance plays a major role in some cases.

For instance, depression is said to be a result of having very little serotonin (happiness hormone) in the brain. 

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3. So, What Are All The Symptoms Of Depression?

  • feelings of sad, helpless, worthless, or empty inside
  • Anxiety, overeating or loss of appetite
  • insomnia or sleeping too much restlessness
  • irritability
  • lack of energy
  • Isolating yourself from others irrational mood swings thoughts of hurting oneself or others
  • Not able to carry out day-to-day activities
  • hear voices in your head
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Not able to concentrate

When these symptoms last longer than usual, then you might wanna consult a psychologist for counseling and other antidepressant medications for major depressive disorder (MDD).

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4. Heal Naturally

You may ask, really is that an option?
Well, let me tell you, the South African doctor (psychiatrist), Derek Summerfield’s story.

The local doctors in Cambodia told Summerfield a tale about a farmer they had dealt with. The farmer worked in the waterlogged rice fields. One day he stepped on a landmine and got his leg blasted.

He was fitted with an artificial limb, and eventually, he went back to work. But it was very hurtful to work with his artificial limb underwater.

Also, returning to the scene of his trauma made him highly anxious. The farmer became deeply depressed.

So, the doctors and his neighbors sat with him and talked through his troubles. They realized that even with his new artificial limb, his old job was just too difficult and hard to adapt.

The farmer was constantly stressed and in physical pain, and these things combined to make him want to stop getting up every day out of bed, and live his life. The doctors and neighbors thought of an idea.

They suggested for him to work as a dairy farmer, a job that would be less painful and free him from those disturbing memories. They reckoned, he was perfectly capable of making the change.

So they bought him a cow. In the following months and years, his life changed. His depressions gradually faded.

The doctors told Summerfield: ‘You see, doctor, the cow was an analgesic, an antidepressant.’ Here the cow acts as a different form of antidepressant.

So all you have to do is to find your cow;) LOL, by cow I mean to find the alternative that cheers you up.

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5. Can Diet Influence Depression?

There is no proven theory on this. But, they may help improve the overall conditions. To be honest, in my opinion, food may help sometimes. YAY! me. So let’s see what kind of diet helps to improve your mood and beat depression.

You can also check out, How to relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia, without medications.

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1. Antioxidants Rich Food

It helps to prevent cell damage and good for the brain. Apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato are rich in beta-carotene.

Blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C. Nuts and seeds, vegetable oils are rich in vitamin E.

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2. Millets (Healthy Carbs) For Depression.

Carbohydrates are associated to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. Experts say that carb cravings sometimes may be a signal to indicate low serotonin activity.

Millets are whole grains, that are packed with protein, antioxidants, and nutrients.

Check out, 7 peculiar uses of pearl millet!

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3. Protein-Rich Foods

Turkey, tuna, and chicken have tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to improve serotonin levels.

Also, Healthy proteins like beans and peas, lean beef, fish, milk, pure ghee, and yogurt/curd can help with depression.

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3. Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, and cereals, can bring many health advantages, and defense against cardiovascular and metabolic problems. They are mostly cooked with olive oil.

In addition, Legumes, nuts, eggs, fish, many fruits, and dark green vegetables are highly used in these diets that are rich in folate and Vitamin B12. It helps protect and maintain the nervous system, including the brain.

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4. Vitamin D

Sunlight is the best and natural source of vitamin D.
Foods that can provide vitamin D are

  • oily fish
  • fortified dairy products
  • beef liver
  • egg
  • Mushrooms

Vitamin D can also help with improving your immunity. Some experts suggest it can help us fight COVID19, say what?

Check out, How can you include vitamin D in your daily diet;)

Tip: To add vitamin D in your everyday meals, start cooking with Standard cold-pressed oil (Marachekku ennai), which is loaded with vitamin D.

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5. Selenium Rich Foods

These foods can improve your mood and reduce anxiety in one go. Selenium is recommended for 55 micrograms a day for grown-ups. Some of the selenium-rich foods are

  • Beans and legumes
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds: Brazil nuts are rich in selenium hence recommended not more than one or two a day.
  • Seafood such as Sardines, crab, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish.
  • Whole grains.

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6. Omega- 3 Fatty Acids Rich Food

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of brain diseases by strengthening brain function and preserving the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

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7. Foods With Zinc

Zinc helps to boost the body’s immune system and fight back depression. Whole grains, meat, and beans are good sources of zinc.

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Meditation

How to meditate? This is no rocket science, yet people find it hard to clear their mind. They feel exhausted and has no time to meditate, but you know what? These are body’s lame excuses, that you can definitely change with practice.

Did you know meditation can help with your depression and also lower your anxiety and stress? Here are few to help improve your inner peace.

  • Loving kindness meditation- helps in reduction of self criticism
  • Mindful meditation
  • Breath awareness meditation.
  • Yoga- Kundalini yoga
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Visualization
  • Body scan meditation
  • Chanting meditation
  • Walking meditation – breathing and walking at the same time in early mornings
  • Repetitive activities.

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Foods To Avoid For Depression

Alcohol, Refined foods, processed oils, and high caffeine can worsen the symptoms of depression. Consume them only in moderation if necessary.

Alcohol overall is bad for health. It can provoke or accelerate new bouts of depression and anxiety.

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Reference links

Bharathi I am a Medical Student with a passion for writing and a thirst for knowledge.

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