Depression: Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations to improve symptoms

The quality of your health depends upon many pieces that not only include the health of your bodily systems, but also include a healthy diet, exercise, and spirituality.

Diet.  Treatment of depression may center on developing general healthy dietary guidelines, in addition to making some key adjustments in your relationship with food.

Certain nutritional changes to diet may aid in the treatment of depression since digestion is an important part of producing and regulating the necessary minerals and amino acids for proper neurological functioning.

Dietary recommendations for depression include:

  • Incorporate organic virgin coconut oil into your cooking.
  • Add bananas to your diet since they are rich in potassium.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates that are slow to digest and gradually increase blood sugar levels such as brown rice, raw apples, and winter squash.
  • Add cloves to your diet.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as ground flax seed, sprouted walnuts, wild-caught salmon, minimal-mercury albacore tuna, and fish oil.
  • Eat garlic every day. When sliced or crushed, allicin is released, a substance that has antimicrobial/antifungal properties.
  • Eat green leafy vegetables (preferably organic so it contains more magnesium).
  • Choose organic cage-free eggs.
  • Add nutrient-dense and unprocessed foods such as sprouted nuts and seeds to your diet.
  • Add cilantro to your diet. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cilantro may help mobilize mercury and other neurotoxic metals, pulling them out of the brain to more superficial structures where they can be more easily grabbed and excreted by chelating agents.17,18

Foods to AVOID include:

  • All foods containing refined sugar or artificial sugar-substitutes such as aspartame, Splenda®, etc. Choose a natural sweetener like Xylosweet instead.
  • All simple or refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, etc.) – Read more about good carbs and bad carbs.
  • Excessive caffeine intake – While moderate amounts of caffeine may be beneficial, excessive consumption of caffeine can disrupt the body’s systems, causing insomnia and irregularity (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Alcoholic beverages in excess. While they may induce sleep, ultimately they disrupt the natural sleep cycle, leading to sleep deprivation.
  • Sweetened fruit juices that spike blood sugar levels too rapidly
  • Carbonated soft drinks that alter pH levels, making the blood more acidic
  • Bottom crawlers such as oysters, clams, and lobster that may contain toxic levels of mercury
  • Deep-sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish that may contain toxic levels of mercury. Choose minimal-mercury albacore tuna instead.
  • Farm-raised fish that contain PCBs and not enough omega-3 essential fatty acids, due to their land-based diets. Choose wild-caught salmon instead.
  • Sodium nitrite found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in many foods as a flavor enhancer
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils/trans fats found in many processed foods, deep-fried food, fast food, and junk food – Read more about good fats and bad fats.

Other tips for depression sufferers:

  • Try blue light therapy. It is a very gentle method for resetting the body’s circadian rhythms and re-establishing natural patterns of hormone production and sleep/wake cycles. Circadian Rhythm Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder both produce depression.
  • Set very specific sleep and wake times, and stick with them until your sleep patterns stabilize.  Studies have shown that stabilizing sleep patterns has a positive effect on eliminating depression.
  • Step outside and enjoy the sun.  Exposure to sunlight can help balance the body’s circadian rhythms.
  • Seek spiritual outlets.  A negative outlook on life devoid of spirituality can affect recovery from depression.
  • Socialize with other people.  Isolation and loneliness can lead to depression.
  • Try meditation or guided imagery to relax your mind.
  • Discuss heavy metal toxicity with your healthcare professional before receiving any diagnosis or treatment for a serious chronic condition.  Read more about heavy metal toxicity.
  • If you have “silver” dental fillings, get an evaluation from a mercury-free dentist who specializes in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Exposure to mercury (a neuro-toxin) damages neurotransmitters along the HPA axis and can be a cause of depression.  Find a mercury-free dentist in your area now!

Exercise. If you’re inactive, any form of moderate exercise can help alleviate your depression.  Exercise relieves stress, tension, and depression by increasing blood flow to the brain, releasing hormones, stimulating the nervous system, and increasing levels of morphine-like substances found in the body (such as beta-endorphins) that can have a positive effect on mood.  Research has shown that exercise has antidepressant effects and is thus extremely beneficial.

Additional Information about Depression

  1. Depression Overview
  2. Common symptoms of depression
  3. Common causes of depression
  4. Help me choose a natural and alternative treatment for depression
  5. Conventional or prescription medications used in the treatment of depression
  6. Additional Reading for depression

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