Its no surprise that since I started eating better I have been able to combat my depression. Your gut health is directly correlated with your brain functioning, so when you treat your gut bad, you feel bad.
Ever wonder why you feel crappy after eating fast food?
Your body has such a high concentration of sugar after eating processed foods, that it quickly crashes causing you to become depressed.
There are many factors to dealing with your depression, but what you put in your mouth should be your number one priority. Over the past year I have refined my eating habits by following a meal plan designed to get the optimal body and then tweaking that to best suit my body’s needs.
Everyone’s body is different, it is important to listen to what yours is telling you.
My initial problem was how much I was consuming in a day. I would often go to bed bloated and wake up with a pounding headache. This was the first issue I tackled. I used easy-to-follow portion control containers to really reign in my eating habits and to determine the best possible portions for my body. These portion containers are still a central part of my daily meals, and they are what I used to get my body to a healthy weight.
After reigning in my portions, I began to do research on what has worked for others that have depression and I began to listen to many experts talk about gut health. I then began to realize that gut health should be my number one priority. From there, I began to see the importance of increasing my fat intake and decreasing my carbohydrate intake. I then refined my meal plan even more to be centred around foods that will increase my mood.
Here are 5 tips that I have to help decrease depression while increasing your gut health:
- Increase tryptophan! Tryptophan is an amino acid that is an essential building block for serotonin. People with depression have decreased serotonin levels, so eating foods with tryptophan help to combat depression. Some important foods include: Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as turkey and eggs
- Increase Omega-3! Your brain has a high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help with nerve connections. A high intake of EPA and DHA (essential omega-3 fatty acids) increases grey matter in your brain which controls mood. Some important foods include: Salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds
- Increase antioxidants! A lot of research is going into the effect of free radicals in the development of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Antioxidants are able to combat oxidative stress leading to mental health disorders. Antioxidants do this by decreasing inflammation in the body, decreasing the inflammatory response. The inflammatory response has been seen to cause a lot of issues for both our physical and mental health. Some important foods include: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, and tomatoes.
- Increase fat! When you eat a lot of healthy fat your body goes into a process known as ketosis. Ketosis is known to help combat depression in many ways, but one way I find the most interesting is that it decreases the sodium concentrations within your cells. This is the function of many of the common mood stabilizers that are used. Some important foods include: Ghee, vegetable oils and refined coconut oil
- Increase Vitamin D! Vitamin D is a major cause of what is known as “Seasonal Affected Disorder” which causes people (especially us Canadians) to become depressed during the fall and winter months. Vitamin D is a steroid precursor hormone that is essential to your bone and mental health. The absolute best way to get your Vitamin D is to get out in the sun at least 30 minutes a day WITHOUT sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks UVB which is what makes vitamin D. Vitamin D allows for your body to absorb calcium so without the adequate amount of this vitamin you can have all the calcium you want but your body will not reap the benefits!
These are 5 of the main things I have been doing over the past year to stabilize my mood and combat my depression. I am happy to announce that I am now in the process of lowering my antidepressant dosage, and I hope to be off of them within the year. I am by no means a doctor, and although I do have a degree in biology and chemistry, please do your own research and seek medical advice from a trained professional before attempting any of the things I mentioned above. Additionally, please remember that everyone’s bodies are different so the way that mine has reacted to these 5 tips may not be the way your body does!