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National Nutrition Month: Fighting depression with food

Posted on 03-26-2018 Posted in Depression - 0 Comments

Fighting depression with food

Food and sound mental health share a strong relationship between each other. People who eat fresh and home-cooked food live longer and better than those who resort to pre-packaged meals only. Healthy food also reduces the risk of mental and physical illnesses. People whose diet consists largely of farm fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, proteins and low fats experience less stress than those who frequently eat out and do not pay heed to balanced diet.

With the aim of helping people make informed choices about food, develop good eating habits like having a hearty breakfast and understanding how one’s choice about what he/she eats makes a difference, the National Nutrition Month is observed every year in March. The theme for this year is “Go Further with Food.”

SMILES trial

While the advantages of food in easing stress is known, its impact in providing succor to those with severe clinical conditions like depression is not much researched.

A recent 12-week SMILES trial did just that and found that food had therapeutic benefits for people diagnosed with depression. During the course of the study, the researchers analyzed the positive impact of dietary changes on 166 individuals of whom 67 had enrolled for diet intervention. Further, 55 of these utilized some form of therapy – 21 were using psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy combined; nine were on psychotherapy only and 25 were on pharmacotherapy only. There were 25 people in the social support control group and 31 were kept in the diet support group. The food-related intervention included seven individual nutritional consulting sessions by a clinical dietician.

At the end of 12 weeks, the dietary support group exhibited greater improvement than the social support control group. This indicated that in addition to medication and regular counselling, food can play an important role in managing one of the most common mental disorders.

Therapeutic advantages of food in depressive disorders

Emotional resilience builds over time and poor nutrition can make one vulnerable to health issues. By eating right and in the correct manner, one can feel good and fight off the blues. Though there is no specific diet to treat depression, certain food items can improve the mood and help in overall treatment. Some of the advantages of healthy food are given below:

  • Acts as an antidepressant: Food is a powerful antidepressant. It not just soothes the taste buds but also the mind.
  • Provides powerful micronutrients for brain: Our brain is a vital organ that needs food to function optimally. When one cuts down on food, or eats wrong food, the risk of falling prey to health problems is greater. While beans, lean beef, cheese, yogurt and turkey boost alertness and energy, avocado and spinach are essential sources of magnesium that reduce anxiety, improve memory and facilitate sleep.
  • Provides antioxidants that reduce stress: Certain foods such a blueberries have a therapeutic reaction to stress. They contain vital antioxidants that boost immunity and fight stress. Antioxidants also fight free radicals that can otherwise lead to cell damage and ageing. Other foods that can protect the brain are grapefruit, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, carrots and peaches.
  • Reduces inflammation: Certain food items like curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Flaxseeds and nuts are excellent sources to consider.

Getting help for depression

Depression does not happen at once. It occurs in stages, over a period of time. Sometimes the signs are there but we tend to ignore. Many a times, individuals jump back to normalcy without an intervention. But at times, the despondency continues and reaches a fatal stage when people start taking desperate measures like attempting to kill themselves.

As a precautionary measure, it is necessary to recognize the signs of depression in times, such as apathy; listlessness; physical transformation like loss or gain in weight, slouched shoulders or body pain; sleeping too much or too little; or untidy look with no concern about hygiene. It is then necessary to seek help of a professional counsellor or therapist before matters go out of hand.

Sovereign Health of Florida is a leading depression treatment center in the United States offering evidence-based programs to ensure long-term recovery. Call our 24/7 helpline to get connected to our depression treatment facility where patients are provided all the necessary means for smooth transition into their normal life once again. You can also chat online with one of our experts to get more information.

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