Foods that Fight Depression
By Catherine Lewis, AHJ Editor -- Published: November 30, 2009
If you have battled depression, or are close to someone that has, you would love to know the key to curing it forever. Well, you may have one option when it comes to addressing this debilitating condition. New research is now being done that indicates that there are foods that can actually help fight depression. Which foods, you ask? Keep reading to find out.
What Foods Fight Depression?
Researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, discovered several foods that appear to be beneficial for depression.
* Cold water fish – Salmon, sardines, and tuna are included in this list.
* Walnuts – Walnuts - like cold-water fish - contain omega-3 fatty acids.
* Sugar beets and molasses – Sugar beets and molasses contain a substance known as uridine. This substance also seems to have positive effects on depression.
This food list could explain why those in Scandinavian and Asian countries have lower instances of depression. People in these regions tend to have diets that are very high in fish. The researchers found that when omega-3 fatty acids were used in conjunction with uridine in low doses that it was effective against depression.
Japanese researchers have findings that also support these conclusions. While this team of researchers was in Finland they surveyed 1,767 residents. These survey results caused them to conclude that eating fish more than two times per week has a protective effect against both depression and suicide.
How Do These Foods Fight Depression?
Exactly how these foods fight depression is not known. Researchers suspect that they may change some fats in the brain membrane. They believe that this could make it easier for the brain chemicals to pass through. The researchers at McLean used lab rats but warn that human metabolism is significantly different from that of rats.
Kathleen Franco, MD is the professor of medicine and psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Ohio. She believes that diet along with supplements, combined with medication and psychotherapy, have a role in depression treatment. Dr. Franco says, "It is recommended that individuals eat a healthy diet [including] fruits and vegetables with antioxidants; omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna and some other fish; and vitamins that include all the B's."
Depression Foods: Other Possibilities
There are other types of foods and dietary supplements that may affect depression as well:
* B vitamins - Studies indicate low levels of the B vitamin folic acid along with high levels of homocysteine, a protein, make you more likely to be depressed. Folic acid, vitamin B2, B6, and B12 decrease levels of homocysteine. B vitamins can be obtained by eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.
* Amino acids – An important amino acid, Tryptophan, is needed to make the brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are understood to be one cause of depression.
* Carbohydrates - Carbs are changed into sugar that your brain needs to function. Eating too much sugar often causes peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels that leads to or aggravate symptoms of depression. Stick to a diet low in refined carbs and sugar and high in fruits and vegetables.
* St. John’s Wort - There has been some evidence that St. John's Wort has been helpful in treating mild depression. However, two recent studies reported that it was no more effective than a placebo in cases of major depression.
More research is needed, but the outlook is quite hopeful.