A majority of people are living with depression. Without help and treatment, it becomes difficult to work and maintain relationships with friends and family. While medication and therapy treat depression, so does increasing frequency of exercising and switching to healthier diets.
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According to research, eating unhealthy diets increases the risk or severity of depression, on the flip side, healthy foods reduce the risk. As thus, what should you eat more and what should you avoid for the sake of your mood?
Having a healthy diet means eating a wide variety of nutritious foods. Contrariwise, unhealthy diets are those that are low on nutrition and contain a lot of foods that are high in energy. These foods (unhealthy diets) may include:
- Processed and takeaway foods
- Processed meats
- Fried food
- Refined grains, such as those in white bread, pasta, cakes and pastries
- Sugary drinks and snacks.
While this list is mainly composed of junk foods, it is okay to consume the foods but at lower limits by taking fewer serves and more fresh foods and whole grains. This way, you don’t end up not only overfed but also undernourished. Healthy diets mean consuming a wide variety of nutritious food each day, including:
- Oily fish
- Dairy products
- Small quantities of meat
- Olive oil
Even if you are happy, why not go farther for a more buoyant mood and stick to a healthy diet as much as you can? Healthy diets usually are high in foods that boost mental health in varied ways depending on the type of food:
Complex Carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains – These help by providing energy for the brain cells. Unlike simple carbohydrates found in sugary drinks and snacks, the complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly into the body’s system thus reducing the instances of highs and lows normally created by simple carbohydrates. The slow and constant release of glucose ensures you don’t have alternating levels of feeling happy that would eventually affect your psychological wellbeing.
Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables – Antioxidants eliminate oxidative stress and decrease inflammation in the brain. In return, this increases the feel-good chemicals in the brain that improve your mood.
Omega 3 in oily fish and Vitamin B in some vegetables – These also increase the production of the feel-good chemicals in the brain, and they are known to protect against depression and dementia.
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Pro and prebiotics found in cheese, yogurt and other fermented products – These boost the bacteria living in the gut. The bacteria then release chemical messages from the gut to the brain that influence our mood and reaction to stressful situations. According to research, pro- and prebiotics can work the same way as antidepressants.