You’ve probably heard it before, but it cannot be stated enough, a healthy diet and a healthy body will do wonders for your mind. And keeping your mind and body is one easy way to improve your life and is even one of the tips to save money on life insurance.
Let’s cover how a good diet benefits you and some easy ways to manage it if you are struggling with depression.
Does eating healthy improve your mental health?
There is research to suggest that the kinds of food you eat have an impact on your mental health. This is especially true when struggling with long-term mental health conditions like depression.
There are even studies to suggest that if you maintain a healthy diet during chemotherapy, it can help in long-term recovery.
Several factors within our food can lead to an overall increase or decrease in our mental health. Some studies suggest that sugary foods can lead to inflammation, which is often directly linked to depression. Other studies have found that those that manage their diet report an increase in overall wellbeing.
Eating healthy by including plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet helps immensely, whereas avoiding processed food is usually recommended. Still, there isn’t one diet that leads to a cure for depression. There are, however, specific foods that help while others are best avoided.
Foods that Have an Effect on Depression
Take note that the science behind diet and mental health is constantly changing and what is at first recommended can later change. However, this isn’t to say that the current advice isn’t worth looking into what kind of foods are best recommended now.
After all, there is plenty of evidence behind this list to suggest that there are both benefits and drawbacks to these foods.
How much a healthy diet will help your overall depression can change from individual to individual though.
Foods that Help with Depression
Let’s take a look at the kinds of foods that can help your depression when included within your diet.
Fatty fish like anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines, shad, and tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which helps brain health.
Things like cashews, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts, and most especially walnuts are good to eat. Walnuts in particular are known as brain food, and they are a great source of protein. Walnuts also help keep your blood sugar high.
Beans have the added benefit of being both a great source of protein and fiber. They can also help minimize dips in your blood sugar which has a large effect on your mood. There are also folates in beans, which is a vitamin B that helps you produce blood cells, RNA, DNA, and metabolize proteins.
Garbanzo beans, in particular, have a high amount of folates along with pinto beans.
Seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds have a good amount of Omega-3, and you usually only need a small amount to improve your mood.
The best poultry to eat are chicken and turkey, both of which are full of protein and can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Having stable blood sugar helps to keep your mood balanced.
Chicken and turkey breast are also known for containing tryptophan which in turn can help your body produce more serotonin.
Just like your mom has always said, eat your veggies! They are full of fibers and folates, and plenty of other nutrients. Look out especially for those darker leafy greens like spinach. Popeye was clearly onto something.
Brussels sprouts, kale, and watercress are also a few other veggies to take into consideration.
Probiotics and Vitamin D
Both of these will help with the overall health of your gut and mind. Many of the microorganisms living in your gut play an important role in mood regulation.
A lack of vitamin D is also linked to those who suffer from seasonal depression so it is recommended to either eat foods with a lot of vitamin D in them or take a supplement.
Foods that May Exacerbate Depression
In small quantities, sugar is usually not a bad thing. However, most of our processed foods contain a large amount of sugar in them, and too much of a good thing can often be bad.
Sugar is not always labeled as sugar on the back of food labels. You will want to look for ingredients like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, lactose, maltose, and sucrose. When you add too much sugar to your diet, it can throw off the balance to your sugar levels, a large factor in why people develop depression.
Be mindful of what you are putting in your body, and limit the amount of sugar you consume.
This is another item you will find in a lot of foods that aren’t very good for you. In this case, the term “refined” is referring to food processed in a factory that creates sugar or starches that don’t exist naturally. These grains exist in breaded foods, pasta, crackers, white rice, and chips that we often find in convenience stores.
While eating a little with your healthy diet won’t cause you too much harm health experts recommend that you cut back when need be.
It is tempting to drink some beer or whiskey when having a bad week, but just keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant, and when coupled with depression, you can exacerbate your symptoms. Most alcoholic drinks also have a lot of sugar in them which factors into the problem.
Try to consume only a small amount of alcohol especially when struggling with depression.
Unfortunately, large amounts of caffeine, like most foods on this list, are not good for you. While caffeine can help give you a boost in the mornings, most people are over-caffeinated which often leads to more crashes throughout the day.
An addiction to caffeine also means most people end up needing more and more caffeine to even feel a bit of a charge. Try to limit your caffeine intake to two to three cups a day.
Other Factors that Affect Depression
Diet is not the only factor that plays a role in one’s mental health. There are plenty of other things like how you are maintaining your schedule. For example, make sure you are not overworking, avoiding socializing, watching how much you exercise, as well as checking your weight.
All of these factors have a large effect on you and your mental health. If you are experiencing depression and you are struggling to manage it, make sure you reach out for professional help. A professional can often point you in the right direction as you learn to manage your depression.
Just as it is important to maintain your physical health daily, so is it important to maintain your mental health as well, as the two are often very directly related.
In these times of uncertainty with the pandemic and so much unrest going on in the world, it is sometimes hard to manage yourself. Look into how to stay happy and healthy during this pandemic, and check out other sources on how foods help fight off depression.
Author Bio: Brennan Lingo writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, USInsuranceAgents.com.