Ha! Caught’ya! Nope, I am not talking about that piece of chocolate cake sitting in your refrigerator. You know what THAT does! Eating right is what I meant.
I am talking about our eating habits and nutrition. Very few of us know that there is a direct link between nutrition and depression. Nutritional deficiencies not only cause physical illnesses, it also affects the severity and duration of depression.
Most of the times, we don’t put much thought in to what we eat. But it may be a good idea to start and making this a habit. A little bit of awareness about what we eat and what it does will make a world of difference to our general well-being. To start with, let’s look at some of the common nutrients and their effect on us.
We all know about the various forms of low-carb diets that are doing the rounds but do we know that diets low in carbohydrate tends to precipitate depression, as carbs are key to the production of brain chemicals like serotonin and tryptophan that promote the feeling of well-being? Did you know that low glycaemic index (GI) foods such as some fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pasta, etc. are more likely to provide a moderate but lasting effect on brain chemistry, mood, and energy level? And that high GI foods – primarily sweets – tend to provide immediate but temporary relief. All the more reason to keep away from those.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
“The evidence is becoming quite compelling that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake enhances many aspects of brain function, including the control of mood and aspects of personality,” says Brian M. Ross, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Chemistry and Public Health at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine of Lakehead University. Lack of dietary omega-3s affects brain function and is associated with cognitive and emotional disorders. Now you know how important fish, flaxseed, beans, walnut etc are!
Zinc plays a part in modulating the brain and body’s response to stress. Various studies have concluded that Zinc deficiency can lead to symptoms of depression, ADHD, difficulties with learning and memory, seizures, aggression, and violence. The recommended dosage of Zinc supplement pill is 25-50mg and is probably best taken only every few days as more than 50mg may lead to improper copper metabolism, altered iron function, and reduced immune function. Spinach, pumpkin, cashews, oysters, wheat germ, beef are some of the excellent sources of zinc.
Do you think you get tired very quickly while exercising? Iron deficiency, anaemia, is associated with apathy, depression, and rapid fatigue when exercising. Research has provided evidence to prove that iron is an important component in cognitive, sensorimotor, and social-emotional development and functioning, because iron-containing enzymes and proteins highly support the development of central nervous system processes.
Iodine plays an important role in mental health. The iodine provided by the thyroid hormone ensures the energy metabolism of the cerebral cells.
Recent studies indicate a direct link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression. There are studies that proved that oral Vitamin D supplements not only brought these levels to normal but also improved their feelings of well-being making them feel better. Now, if that’s proven, what’s stopping us from enjoying that glorious sunlight shining on us and that too when it’s free! However, please remember that the healing properties of sunlight cannot penetrate glass and so we have to step out. Darker skin needs 25% more exposure to sunlight to absorb Vitamin D. Oh! And the other important thing, sunscreens, even as low as SPF8 restricts the body from making vitamin D by 95 percent. So, if you are out in the sun in pursuit of Vitamin D, be sure to ditch the sunscreen for that trip.
And by the way, a small piece of cake never killed anyone. Eat in moderation. Eat healthy. Workout regularly. Live life.
Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive list and is purely for educative and informational purposes. Please consult your doctor for clarifications and further information.