Depression may occur due to an improper and unhealthy diet in many people, according to latest research. In recent years, scientist conducted a variety of studies on the potential relationship between depression and improper diets. They found that nutrition has an increased effect on the human body, as well as emotional states related to depression.
Naturally Combatting the Cause of Depression
According to recent studies, diets high in fats and sugars may be a factor that causes depression in many people. These types of diets contribute to emotional and biological changes in our minds and bodies.
When we eat poorly, our bodies become deprived of essential nutrients. The human body recognizes, reacts, and regards nutrient deficiencies as a potential disease. In turn, the body releases proteins known as cytokines to try to protect the body and fight off the perceived intruder.
This natural and vital protection process is similar to how the body’s immune system works when trying to heal a physical wound that may cause inflammation. The brain receives signals when inflammation is detected.
Chronic and extended health problems can easily turn into depression because of the negative thoughts people get when triggered by an illness. Physicians refer to this as sickness behavior, which is surprisingly similar to depression, where people are unwilling to be productive, eat well, or get out of bed.
For example, The Washington Post covered a story that included Jodi Corbett, a 47-year-old battling depression for more than twenty years. Jodi initiated an experimental diet that she believes took her off antidepressants. Jodi said she stopped eating food products containing gluten. Gluten is a protein composite found in rye, barley, wheat, and related grains. It took only one month for Jodi to rid herself of her lifelong depression and lose several pounds.
“It was like a veil lifted and I could see life more clearly. It changed everything.”
She added more about her success.
“This was such a simple solution. I could have saved myself a lot of money and a lot of misery if someone had asked about my diet 15 years ago. My life could have been different.”
Jodi Corbett’s example is just the tip of the iceberg many researchers are exploring when it comes to food’s impact on the mind. For years, scientists focused on the mind being the essential cause of depression; however, new research has uncovered the possibility that a healthy diet can play an instrumental part in relieving depression in most people.
Diets That Make a Difference
Big Think reported the findings of a study comparing a western diet that contains more sugars and fat, to the Mediterranean diet predominantly comprised of vegetables, oils, and nuts.
“Those who lived almost exclusively on the traditional Mediterranean diet were about half as likely to develop depression over the period as those eating more unhealthy food; even when you control for things like education and economic status.”
Michael Berk is a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia. He offered an explanation to The Washington Post on how diets affect our mental health.
“Traditional diets, the kinds of foods your grandmother would have recognized, have been associated with a lower risk of mental health issues. There’s lots of hype about the Mediterranean diet [fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, fish] but the traditional Norwegian diet [fish, shellfish, game, root vegetables, dairy products, whole-wheat bread] and the traditional Japanese diet [fish, tofu, rice] appear to be just as protective.”
University of California in Los Angeles, clinical psychologist George Slavich has studied depression for years. When discussing causes of depression, Dr. Slavich sees the body having more precedence over the mind.
He says, “I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition anymore. It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.”
Today, treating depression with healthier diets is becoming more common. For instance, the U.S. Department of Defense initiated a trial program that delivers nutrient rich foods to soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, claiming eating a healthy diet has proven to be as effective as preventative mental health counseling in preventing depression.
Not everyone is completely onboard in citing the body over the mind when it comes to depression. As with most healthcare professional, Dr. Berk supports an integrative approach to treating mental illness, including added traditional treatments, exercise, as well as experimenting with diet modifications. With respect to depression, Dr. Berk offers more.
“For a mood disorder like depression, there are hundreds if not thousands of risk pathways that all contribute to the disorder. Targeting one factor doesn’t target all the factors that cause someone to develop depression. That’s why you need to develop an integrated package of care as the norm.”
Most people agree that healthy and nutritional diets should be included in an eclectic and holistic approach to treating depression.