9/30/13

Can You Fight Depression Naturally? Part Four: Nutrition

In this series, I have been presenting ideas that one may use in place of medication or along with it to fight symptoms of depression. I do not want to go on Prozac or Zoloft myself, but certainly understand that is not the case for everyone. For those who are researching natural means for overcoming this horrible dark disease, I hope this series will cause you to look a little deeper at environmental factors. One reader commented on my introductory post that she wonders why so many are people depressed. Could it be the food we eat? I wonder that myself. Could food be the cause? Could food be the solution?

 

When was the last time you went to the doctor or therapist and he told you to go home and lay off the McDonald's, avoid food dyes and additives, eat organic veggies, grass fed meat and dairy, and free range eggs? I never have. Not once. Maybe I have been going to the wrong doctors! Do you suppose McDonald's causes depression?

I heard it said one time that the gut is your second brain. Feed your gut what it needs to be healthy and your brain will be too. I am convinced that the majority of health problems today (physical and mental) stem from a lack of proper nutrition. We eat sure; most of us too much. We have plenty of food in our country, but a severe lack of vitamins, minerals, and healthy brain boosting fats.

I seriously used to roll my eyes when I heard people say that this or that can be all better when we eat organic, non-processed food and avoid food dyes. Like my eyes would get stuck up there kind of rolling my eyes. But the more I have researched these claims, the more I have to think they are right on the money! Well almost. As with all wellness, it is only a key to the puzzle. Lowering stress and getting exercise are vital keys as well.


Aristotle himself coined the phrase: "Let food be thy medicine." I ponder on those words often.

Naturopathic Doctor, Linda Johnson said, "Nutritional deficiencies can cause depression. When so many people eat processed fast foods cooked in microwaves, it is no surprise that depression is so common." (source)  She goes on to say, "Serotonin is dependent on quality nutrients, so it is important to eat regularly and have some protein at each meal to help keep blood sugar balanced. Good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and flaxseed oil are also important to help you produce enough serotonin."

The oils in processed foods are soybean, canola, and hydrogenated fats. Unfortunately, today's "Standard American Diet" is severely lacking in healthy fats that increase serotonin. She also mentions that artificial sweeteners- another prominent feature in "diet foods" lowers serotonin levels.

Foods that help produce serotonin:
  • Fruits such as cherries, plums, bananas, and pineapple.
  • Turkey (a source of tryptophan) and other non-hormone treated meats and eggs.
  • Dark Chocolate... Oh yea! Something always told me that would be good for me.
  • Are you on a low carb diet? Pasta, potatoes and bread boost serotonin with a feeling of satiety.
  • Milk and Cheese (Best if it is raw from grass fed cows or goats).

Foods that reduce serotonin:

  • Sugary Snacks (some research credits sugar with temporary serotonin increase)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Low carb, high protein diets
  • Low fat diets
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

So, if you are depressed, have a talk with your diet. No one likes hearing that,  I know. Food is supposed to comfort, not cause anxiety and depression. Consider adding serotonin producing foods to your diet, and dumping the trans fats, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Your waistline with thank you. Your energy levels will thank you. Your mood will thank you. Your butter will thank you as you smother it on a hot out of the oven, carb filled dinner roll. Makes me happy just thinking about it!!

Have you changed your diet and noticed an increase in energy, happiness and general well being? Please tell us about it.

What else can increase serotonin levels? Sunlight, Sleep, and relaxation! We will explore those next.

*Note: Nothing I share here can or should be construed as medical advice. These are my thoughts and ideas only, meant to spur anyone interested into thinking outside the box of traditional health care. Take the time to do your own research and talk to your health care professional.

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25 comments:

  1. Interesting finds! I'm happy to say giving up caffeine, soda, and almost never eating fast food have been some of my steps toward healthier living. I would really like to get "healthy" eggs and meat one day. My chiropractor once told me that we live in a good area for buying such products, which is great.

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    1. they are initially a price shock, I will warn you. but health is wealth and good food is cheaper than medical bills.

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  2. Caffine is my biggest vice :( I definitely need to give it the boot. Sigh........

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    1. Hmmm, there is someone in my home with the same problem! It is a tough one, for sure.

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  3. Wonder if you will get slammed with a defamation suit?? I agree that for some people depression may be caused in part by the foods they eat. However, that is really over simplifying something quite serious. I would hate to trivialize something as serious as depression.
    Last week I attended a funeral for a 15 year old girl who hung herself. I do not believe anything she ate caused her to be depressed enough to end her life. Obviously, it is good to have a healthy diet but it is not the cure all for everything.

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    1. I would never trivialize depression. It is real. My series is to explore alternate ways to heal for those who do not find relief from a pill. Diet, exercise, sleep, and sleep all lead to it. So does trauma in one's life. But I absolutely, positively believe that real food is the best cure for most of what ails us.

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    2. There are plenty of parents out of children who have taken their own lives. No, they don't blame their diet, but the medication they were given for the depression. We should start with our diet first.

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  4. If you get the chance, watch the documentary 'Supersize Me'...very enlightening. Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again today :)

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    1. I have seen it. Sure does make you think! The documentary "fat head" resonated more with me, however.

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  5. So glad to come across your blog today! My husband suffers from depression and I have been looking into alot of different natural treatments and I believe you are right on with all of this :) Good encouragement, thank you!

    Dawn from http://www.IThinkWeCouldBeFriends.com stopping by from All Things Thursday :)

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    1. I am so, so sorry for your husband, and for you Dawn. I have been in seminars all week that present amazing evidence that natural means are effective and life changing. Good luck to you. I hope you will keep checking back for more posts on the subject.

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  6. McDonalds is pure junk! I think it can cause many health problems - its loaded with GMO and is so artificial! Nicely written. Like your list of foods to help depression - definitely think what we eat can cause depression and other health and mood disorders. Visiting you from Jill Home Remedies Blog Hop. Twitted and recommended on google.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Marla. And for sharing. I really appreciate that!

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  7. I very much believe food is the best medicine. It can't fix everything, but it can help more than we give it credit for. Depression medicine alters the chemical make-up of our brains...........so does caffeine and artificial sweeteners. I was able to heal my digestive system with a real food diet and almost eliminate severe migraines that I would get on a daily basis. I had never thought about it, but I do cry less now than when I was eating fast and processed food. I don't have a depression diagnosis, but several of my family members do. I've always felt like I was "on the edge", but since changing my diet, I no longer feel that way. I was on a board of a mental health agency for many years and I do not discount the work they do. I would like to add though that a healthy, real food diet can only help the important work they do with their clients. Thanks for sharing this at Let's Get Real, Janine. You may just be the catalyst that helps someone feel a little better.

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    1. It is always amazing to me to hear how people who change their diet benefit in all areas of their lives. No system is indepentent of another. Everything is connected.

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  8. I so agree with everything you have written. I do believe some people need medication but it shouldn't be the first line of defense for everyone as it has become today. I have recently cut out all sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods and am doing a series on it as well. I am only in day 4 and feeling rough. It is really making me see all the junk that must be in that stuff forcing me through a detox to shed it...

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    1. Good luck to you candace, that is no easy feat! Keep it up and be prepared to feel better in all areas of your life.

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  9. I definitely agree that whole, organic foods can help in many aspects of your health. Thanks for sharing on Tuesday Greens!

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  10. My herbalist said that alot of the issues with deal with is because our diets are to acidic. I also researched vitamin D which our society lacks and there is a connection with the lack and issues of the mind, look into it.

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    1. Have you found a good source of Vitamin D (other than the sun of course) that is not synthetic?

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  11. You've given me lots to think about. Thanks for presenting such a carefully documented piece of evidence for your thoughts.

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  12. I love this post! Such great, though-provoking info! I would love for you to link up with us at Tips and Tricks Tuesday, going live tonight, where we share healthy living advice. They would be so interested in this! Thanks!

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  13. Thanks for linking up to Wellness Wednesday this week! I believe that I have seen a direct correlation in myself between candida and depression. And a direct correlation between candida and my diet.

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