The Link Between Diet and Depression

Updated: Aug 2, 2018



According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, "The Food That Helps Battle Depression", the health of your brain and the health of your microbiome are crucial factors to consider when dealing with depression. Studies show that "a healthy diet may not only prevent depression, but could effectively treat it once it's started."


While depression has many causes—genetic reasons, stressful events, or lifestyle choices—many people forget that it's rooted in "an unhealthy brain." “When we think of cardiac health, we think of strengthening an organ, the heart,” says Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist in New York, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia and author of “Eat Complete.” “We need to start thinking of strengthening another organ, the brain, when we think of mental health.”


A bad diet makes depression worse by not providing your brain with essential nutrients. A bad diet also affects your microbiome, which is a term used for the trillions of micro-organisms that live in your gut. The microbiome is responsible for production of the brain's "feel good" neurotransmitter, serotonin, which in turn affects our mood.


The Mediterranean diet is a good one to follow for a healthy brain. Filled with fruits and vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, seafood, whole grains and small portions of red meat, the Mediterranean diet "will provide the nutrition our brain needs, regulate our inflammatory response and support the good bacteria in our gut," according to Dr. Mosconi, author of "Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power."


While a good diet may not replace medicine or therapy, healthy eating "can serve as a supplemental treatment—one with no bad side effects, unlike antidepressants—that also has a giant upside. It can prevent other health problems, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes."


With all the benefits of a healthy diet, it's crucial to evaluate yours if you're susceptible to depression.


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