By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
August 9, 2017
- Are you eating your way to depression?
- Treat your bad mood with good food
- The fastest way to a happier you
Depression is a sneaky affliction. It creeps up on before you even realize it. And once it grabs hold of you, it’s hard to break out of the trance-like state that keeps you feeling lost, sad, lonely and helpless.
Well, here’s a big surprise…If you’re feeling down in the dumps, your diet might be to blame.
The foods you eat could be sending you into the doldrums.
Some of them might even be foods you count on to make you feel better – the ones we call “comfort foods”. But when you indulge in them, you could end up sending yourself on a downward spiral that seems impossible to lift yourself out of.
For example, people who eat croissants, doughnuts, hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza are over 50% more likely to develop depression. Added sugars and refined grains are also associated with increasing odds of depression.
But what happens when you change the way you eat?
Eat Your Way to Happiness
Here’s something you’ll find extremely interesting.
When people suffering from major depression receive nutritional counseling, about a third of them go into remission. The counseling includes some advice that might sound familiar to you…
Fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, fish and olive oil.
These are all key elements of a Mediterranean style diet, which I strongly advocate for all of my patients and readers. Among other things, the foods included in this way of eating bolster the production of good bacteria in your gut.
And believe it or not, your gut bacteria might just be the root of your depressive symptoms.
You see, while you might think your gut microbes are just a bunch of bacteria that help break down and digest the foods you eat, that’s simply not true.
They also produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, dopamine and others that are found in your brain. All of these chemicals are associated with depression, stress, anxiety and your emotions.
Simply stated, your gut microbiota is able to send depressive signals to your brain. This makes it important to eat foods that promote healthy gut bacteria – the kind that will send happy signals to your brain.
The Fastest Way to a Happier Gut
The fastest way to replenish healthy gut bacteria is eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. These plant-based foods are associated with a highly diverse microbiota. The more variety you include, the healthier your gut will be…and the happier your brain will be.
Eating more probiotic foods can also help your gut microbes flourish. This means getting more fermented foods in your diet, like kimchi, miso, natto, kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut.
If you feel you need a little extra help, I have two additional recommendations.
First, supplement with a digestive enzyme about 30 minutes before meals. You’ll want to choose a formula that contains a good mix of enzymes, including…
• Amylase for carbohydrate digestion
• Protease to help digest proteins
• Lipase for the digestion of fats
• Maltase to convert complex sugars in grain foods to glucose
• Cellulase to break down fibers
• Sucrase to help digest sugars
Second, add a probiotic to your daily regimen. Look for a formula that contains a prebiotic along with lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and other strains of healthy bacteria.
The higher the colony count, and the more live strains involved, the better off you’ll be. Just make sure to take it daily with food.
Plataforma SINC. “Link between fast food and depression confirmed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2012.
Gangwisch JE, et al. High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;102(2):454-63.
Jacka FN, et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Med. 2017 Jan 30;15(1):23.
Evrensel A, et al. The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2015 Dec; 13(3): 239–244.
David LA, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 2014 Jan 23;505(7484):559-63.