When desiring a healthy lifestyle, our mental well-being is one of, if not the most important aspects to consider. Millions of people in the world suffer from mental health issues, and even for those who don’t, so many people just aren’t consistently happy.
Thanks to the emergence of the field of “positive psychology,” people are starting to understand that it’s not just health and depression we need to focus on – it’s also health and HAPPINESS.
This blog post will have some personal information in the beginning, but moves on to scientific evidence and studies that show you can save yourself from suicidal depression through better nutrition. I want to offer information for people who might just have no idea that this is even a possibility.
You might have clicked this post for the simple fact that you are incredulous about its title. “Cure” depression with food? I can hear you thinking, ‘This chick must not know a thing about depression.’
Well, I assure you, I know a fair amount. I was diagnosed myself with clinical depression in my teen years. Believe me when I say I know what it’s like to have thoughts that scare you, to feel like you just want to give up, and to not have the physical ability to get out of bed. I do know. I’ve been there. I’ve been that.
No matter the reason that led you here, I ask you to give the following information a fair chance.
We put chemicals into our bodies blindly, wishing and praying to be cured, listening faithfully to medical professionals.
And yes, in many cases, pharmaceuticals have saved lives. They’ve stabilized people who had no other chance at surviving. At one point in my life, I was saved by them, myself. But if you’re on medication, and you don’t feel any better, or you desire to feel even better than you do now, maybe it’s time to give nutrition a chance.
Disclaimer: Of course, I am in no way a medical professional. I am speaking from my own experience and backing it up with research cited in How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. I whole-heartedly agree with the findings in this book, and that’s why I wanted to offer this information to you today!
Lifestyle intervention can help to repair not just your body, but also your mind. Studies on emotional health and mood states of plant-based eaters have shown that eating less meat is good for us, not just physically, but also EMOTIONALLY.
A research team conducted a study in which they took men and women who ate meat at least once a day and changed their diets, taking away their eggs and chicken and some other meats, to see what would happen to their moods. Within just TWO WEEKS, the study subjects experienced significant improvement in their mood states.
So my first piece of advice is to move towards a more plant-based diet. Now, let’s get on to a list of the specific foods that can help you cure suicidal depression.
This might be surprising to some, but the red pigment in tomatoes has extremely high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, which play an important role in the development of psychiatric disorders. Studies have shown that elderly people who ate tomatoes or tomato products daily had half the odds of depression compared with those who ate them once a week or less.
Grapes contain phytonutrients that naturally inhibit serotonin and dopamine. Apples, berries, onions, and green tea also help fight depression in the same way, all naturally containing the same phytonutrients.
Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.
Sprinkle seeds on your oatmeal in the morning, in your smoothie bowl, over your salads… just throw them in anywhere you can find a place for them! Adding more seeds into your diet can improve the levels of serotonin (a compound found in blood platelets, low levels have been linked to depression) that makes it into your brain. Seeds have a high trytophan-to-protein ratio, which basically means they can facilitate serotonin access to the brain, thereby making you a happier person, less prone to depression. A double-blind study for social anxiety disorder reported a significant improvement in anxiety within an hour of consuming seeds.
This subtle and fragrant spice is best used in cooking savory, hot meals such as curries, soups, risottos, and rice dishes. Though expensive, there’s a reason why saffron is considered “the world’s most legendary spice.” This spice has been used for healing for more than 3,600 years. In today’s world, saffron is an excellent fighter against depression. Scientists tested saffron against the antidepressant Prozac for treatment of clinical depression. They found that the spice and the drug worked EQUALLY WELL in reducing depression symptoms. The difference is that using saffron in your food won’t give you side effects such as sexual dysfunction. And good news – a subsequent study found that even just smelling saffron appeared to have psychological benefits. So you don’t have to break the bank to buy enough saffron to cook with for every meal!
Though I’m not the biggest advocate of coffee, facts are facts, and the most popular stimulant in the world has some very real positive effects on depression. A Kaiser Permanente study of more than one hundred thousand people found that suicide risk dropped with increase in coffee dose. When looking at the study, 1-6 cups of coffee a day showed a decrease in suicide risk, but drinking eight or more cups a day showed an increase of suicide risk. Keep in mind, also, that sweetening the coffee with white sugar and especially with aspartame or saccharine (Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet’n Low, etc.), showed an increase in suicide. So drink black coffee, or have it with a natural sweetener such as monk fruit sugar, maple syrup, or even agave.
Beans contain folate, a powerful B Vitamin that combats the odds of depression. Studies have shown that low folate intake led to depression. Though folate supplements did not seem to help, receiving the vitamin through foods such as beans and greens was effective.
These are some food sources that may help combat depression. Overall, adding any of these into your diet will only cause positive effects on your health. We could all use more naturally occurring vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients in our diets! Basically…couldn’t hurt to try, right?!
Add 30 minutes to an hour of exercise every day, and I guarantee you will feel like a new person. I’ve done it, I’ve seen many people do it, and the effects are nothing short of miraculous.
Remember that you are not alone. There is a reason why you are here. There is a purpose for each human being, and you are meant to be alive and meant to live well.
National Suicide Helpline – Call 1-800-273-8255