The causes of depression are varied, ephemeral, and often uncertain. We know that some people have a genetic predisposition  to the condition, and we know that adverse events can ‘trigger’ the condition . We’re also fairly sure that lifestyle factors can influence one’s susceptibility to and experience of depression. However, the precise ‘causes’ and workings of the disease remain up for debate. What we do know is that depression is a devastating, life-ruining mental illness which appears to be on the increase in modern society . While we can’t cure depression through something as simple as eating well, there is some evidence to suggest that those suffering from this terrible disease could alleviate their symptoms somewhat through good nutrition. Here are a few mood-boosting and brain-healing nutritional tips:
This is a really boring and obvious one to start off with - but it bears repeating. There is a considerable link between physical and mental health. Those in poor physical health due to nutritional deficiencies are more likely than many to suffer with depression, for a variety of reasons. Physical ill health causes a great deal of anxiety - not only due to the pain and suffering it causes, but due to the practical difficulties and insurance quibbles  it often brings with it. Stress and anxiety are frequent precursors of depression. Furthermore, conditions like obesity and the like also often cause a severe drop in self-esteem, which can also lead to depression . And we haven’t even touched upon the importance of a healthy, well-nourished body to sustain a healthy, well-nourished mind. If you want to give yourself a fighting chance of avoiding depression, keep your body as healthy as possible through eating a good, balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables, and far less sugar and salt than the average western diet.
Get Plenty Of Omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids are often hailed as a ‘miracle food’. While they’re probably not the panacea that some believe them to be, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that they’re seriously good for our brains. Unlike many mammals, humans cannot produce Omega 3 fatty acids (which are essential for healthy brain function) naturally. This is probably because at one stage in our evolutionary history we ate a lot of fish - which are rich in Omega 3s. There was thus no need to expend energy producing it ourselves. However, the modern diet is not nearly so rich in Omega 3, and our brains are suffering as a consequence. Omega 3 fatty acids help the brain in a variety of ways , the most important of which for our purposes is probably their ability to improve and increase connections between brain cells. This generally helps the brain to regulate ruminative thoughts and emotions more efficiently, which in turn reduces the risk and symptoms of depression. You can find Omega 3s in oily fish, but if you’re not a fish fan, they can also be found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, or in walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Top Up On Tryptophan
Tryptophan is a crucial amino acid which helps your brain and body to build vital structures. It’s absolutely key to the production of serotonin - which many depressives will recognise as the chemical credited with mood regulation. Antidepressants often work by increasing the amount of serotonin available to your brain at any one time. You can enhance this effect by consuming plenty of tryptophan, which will ensure that your brain is able to make more serotonin of its own accord . Like Omega 3s, the body cannot make tryptophan on its own, so needs to get it from dietary sources. Good sources of tryptophan include seeds and nuts (pumpkin seeds will give you a double whammy of tryptophan and Omega 3s!), cheese, soy foods, lean meat, eggs, and (hooray!) dark chocolate.