Can Having A Better Diet Boost Recovery From Depression?
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions that affect many globally. There are many types of depressive disorders, such as persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder.
While there are several medications and therapeutic methods that can help manage or overcome depressive symptoms, not every method works the same for everyone. As such, this has led to many studies and research to find out other treatment and management solutions.
Recently, the diet has been a much-researched topic, with researchers attempting to find out if dietary interventions can help prevent or manage medical conditions. In some studies, there are even suggestions that adopting a fibre-rich diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables may help to improve depressive symptoms.
In this article, we will delve deeper into our gut-brain axis to find out if a better diet can boost recovery from depression.
Depression and the gut
Research has found that the presence of certain microbial genera in the composition of our gut microbiome – Hungatella, Lachnoclostridium, Sellimonas, Coprococcus, and Eggerthella – are linked to depression.
In the same research, it was found that the bacteria listed above help to synthesise certain neurotransmitters that are involved in the development of depressive symptoms. Such neurotransmitters include gamma amino butyric acid, serotonin, butyrate, and glutamate, which fluctuate in level during the depression.
It is not only that but also gut-related conditions that are found to be linked to individuals suffering from depression. Often, individuals suffering from chronic diarrhoea symptoms, IBS symptoms, or vomiting symptoms also suffer from depressive symptoms.
Why is diet the key?
Most neurotransmitters, such as butyrate and glutamate, are synthesised by gut bacteria from an individual’s diet. That means that what the individual eats daily will impact the abundance of such neurotransmitters in the body. If your diet is rich in fruits, whole grains, and fibres, your gut microbiome is well-fed and happy, producing more neurotransmitters to keep you in a good mood.
However, it is also crucial to note that diet, too, influences the abundance of other gut bacteria that might synthesise certain substances, which, when too much or too little, will affect our overall health too. Hence, a well-balanced and diverse diet is vital for a diverse gut microbiome.
How to improve your diet to fight depression?
Having a healthy, well-balanced diet might not provide certain direct benefits that antidepressant medication offers. However, it can be a straightforward, self-empowering way to help you work towards a better mental state.
For instance, instead of consuming milk chocolate, you might want to switch to consuming dark chocolate, which contains a larger amount of beneficial minerals, such as antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Other simple dietary switches can include the following:
- Avoid unhealthy drinks and processed food containing added sugar.
- Incorporate more probiotic ingredients, such as kimchi and yoghurt, as well as prebiotic ingredients, such as leafy greens, into your diet.
- Consume omega-3-rich ingredients, such as walnuts or fish, that contain an anti-inflammatory effect.
At the end of the day, adopting a healthy diet does not necessarily mean avoiding or sacrificing unhealthy food. If you are craving a piece of pie, then it is still alright to eat it. What we are recommending is that you consume a diverse diet that is rich in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Our gut microbiomes, gut health, and emotional states, such as depression and stress, are all connected.
GUTCARE, a digestive care specialist, can help you with that. With our team of experienced clinicians, we provide our patients with the best gastroenterology care, ensuring that they reap the benefits of a healthy gut system.
Contact us to make an appointment today!