Foods that Combat Depression

The role nutrition plays in mental health is being more widely studied and recognized within both the mental health and dietitian fields. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked by individuals dealing with mental illness. Diet and nutrition is another method of taking care of your mental well-being. Here are five types of food to eat that will combat depression along with specific recommendations for each.

Whole Grains

Eating carbohydrates triggers the production of serotonin which is a feel good brain chemical. Sugary foods can provide this immediately, but it is only temporary, while low glycemic index foods provide a more level brain chemistry and a longer lasting effect on mood.
Try: whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice, oats, quinoa, beans

Lean Protein

Many of the brain’s neurotransmitters are made up of amino acids including dopamine and serotonin. Proteins provide these amino acids to our systems when consumed. A deficiency in the required amino acids for those will result in low mood.
Try: turkey, chicken, eggs, beans, peas, soy

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The human brain is made of nearly 60% fat which is why the consumption of fatty acids is crucial to your brain’s ability to function. Omega-6 fatty acids are pretty abundant in our foods, but the omega-3s take a little more intention. The omega-3 fatty acids support the production of dopamine and serotonin.
Try: salmon, tuna, trout, seaweed, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts

Vitamin Rich

Deficiencies specifically of the B vitamins have been linked to depression. The B vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin, and pantothenic acid. A deficiency in folate (B9) often coincides with decreased efficacy of antidepressant therapy. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to depression.
Try: spinach, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, bananas, potatoes, broccoli, codl liver fish oil, herring, salmon

Mineral Rich

Specifically the minerals calcium, chromium, iodine, iron, lithium, selenium, and zinc are related to mental health. In particular, iron deficiency can be accompanied by depression and fatigue. Selenium improves mood while reducing anxiety. Zinc is another that effects the efficacy of antidepressant therapy.
Try: sesame seeds, clams, sunflower seeds, lean beef, beans, oatmeal, Brazil nuts

OCCS provides comprehensive counselling services as well as a wide variety of specialty programs, subsidies, and workshops to best help our patients. Our counsellors specialize in concerns such as depression, anxiety, and more. Please contact us today to learn more about our services, weekend/evening appointments, and sliding fee scale.  Okanagan Clinical Counselling Services had three locations throughout the Okanagan in Penticton, Kelowna, and West Kelowna for your convenience.

This blog post was written by OCCS Clinical Counsellor

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