This is the first part of a three part series about how to fight depression. In this first article I will briefly discuss how stress can cause changes in the body that result in low mood. Then I explain how to fight depression with dietary changes and nutritional supplements.
In the second part of the series, I will be talking about herbal medicines and depression. Herbs that have a history of use as well those with scientific proof.
The final part is about lifestyle changes and stress management techniques. Especially those proven to help boost your mood.
Depression is one of the conditions I most commonly see in practice. Though there are several causes, often it occurs due to the challenges of living a stressful modern life. Whilst having some stress in life can be a good thing. Too much stress, that goes on and on, can be detrimental to health and vitality. Causing changes in the body that affect mood and behaviour. These include changes to stress hormone levels. As well as increasing the permeability of the gut lining, causing a leaky gut.
Both increased stress and leaky gut create a higher amount of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can lead to imbalances in the brain chemicals. Which causes changes to mood and behaviour, leading to symptoms of depression.
Often people can recover from mild depression without medication. Using diet and lifestyle approaches to help the body to rebalance. Relieving the underlying causes – inflammation, stress and nutrient deficiencies.
What to eat to boost your mood
Eating a whole foods diet that contains adequate nutrients should be a priority. Minimise inflammation by avoiding foods that provoke this reaction in the body.
This means avoiding sugar, refined grains, and processed seed oils. In fact, avoid processed food in general. As it is full of additives and preservatives which increase inflammation. Cut down on red meat and dairy products which can be another source of inflammation.
The Mediterranean diet is often described as healthy. There is a lower risk of depression in people that eat this type of diet. Containing high amounts of olive oil, as well as fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, poultry, dairy and unprocessed meat.
Work with a practitioner that can help to point out gaps in your current diet. Or discover any food intolerances that could be triggering inflammation.
To stop the flow of toxins from a leaky gut to the brain. Follow a gut healing protocol such as the 4R program.
Eat probiotic-rich fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi. These help to maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and starchy tubers or roots contain prebiotics. The foods that benefical bacteria thrive upon. Together, probiotics and prebiotics increase and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Helping to maintain the health of your gut.
If you suspect that you have a gut infection find a practitioner that can arrange testing.
Which nutritional supplements work to fight depression
Fish oil contains two long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. There are many studies that describe using fish oil to improve mood. Some suggest EPA may be more active than DHA for relieving depression.
This study found that supplements with higher amount of EPA than DHA were more effective. The dosage taken ranged between 200 to 2000mg per day EPA.
It also seems that fish oil tends to work better in more severe forms of depression, than in milder forms. And, whilst 1000mg EPA reduced symptoms of depression, higher amounts did not.
Beneficial bacteria are linked to a healthy gut. While the health of the gut and the brain is also linked via the gut-brain axis. This review and meta-analysis studied the effect of probiotics on depression. Probiotics significantly reduced symptoms of depression.
S-adenosylmethionine or SAM-e promotes production of certain essential chemicals in the body. It has been studied for use in depression for decades. Since it can influence symptoms of depression due to it’s role in mood regulation. Some people have low levels, possibly due to low levels of certain vitamins needed to produce it.
One study showed using SAMe alongside SSRI antidepressants increased their efficacy. The dosage used was 800mg twice a day. Researchers described SAMe as effective and well tolerated.
In a 10 week study, SAMe reduced symptoms of depression people in people with Parkinson’s disease. The dosage was between 800 and 3600mg per day. Ten of the eleven participants had a 50% improvement.
While in another study, SAMe was superior to an antidepressant drug during weeks 2 to 6 of the trial. By 12 weeks, the effect of the drug improved and results were comparable.
In the next part of the series, I will be discussing the herbal medicines that have proven value to improve mood. Sign up to receive my newsletter so that you don’t miss it.