Diet and Mood: What Role Does Food Play in Depression and Low Mood?

Diet and Mood: What Role Does Food Play in Depression and Low Mood?

There are numerous variables that can contribute to depression or low mood. It could be inherited, with certain people being at higher risk, or it could be contextual, such as work-related stressors or the end of a relationship. It could also be the result of a major medical condition or the use of drugs and alcohol. Researchers have recently established the relevance of diet as a component of mental health, demonstrating that what we eat has a strong link to our risk of depression.

The problem is that when we're not feeling well, finding healthful food can be difficult or even impossible. It's also normal to use food to make us feel better, and it's usually not nutritious food – dubbed "comfort food" by some. So, if you're feeling down, it's not always easy to get back on track with your nutrition.

There isn't necessarily a 'diet' for mental health, but rather a dietary pattern that includes eating more foods linked to a lower risk of depression and eating less foods linked to a higher risk of sadness. The Mediterranean Diet, on the other hand, is the dietary pattern most generally associated with lowering the risk of depression.

There is a link between inflammation and brain or mental health, according to studies, and the Mediterranean diet pattern can lower inflammation, but a bad diet can increase inflammation. A bad diet was also likely to cause nutritional shortages, whereas eating a good diet offered nutrients to keep the brain operating normally.

Foods to eat that lower your depression risk include:

Fruit, both fresh and frozen

Vegetables, both fresh and frozen

Wholegrains like rolled oats, wholegrain bread and crackers, brown rice, quinoa, and barley are all good sources of fiber.

Salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, herring, and sardines are all oily fish.

Chicken, turkey, various fish and seafood, eggs, tofu, and tempeh are all good sources of lean protein.

Chickpeas, red kidney beans, and lentils are examples of beans or pulses.

Extra virgin olive oil can be eaten fresh on salads and is perfectly safe to use in all types of cookery except deep frying.

Dairy items with low fat content, such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt

Foods to avoid if you want to lower your chances of depression:

Red meat consumption (beef, veal, lamb, and kangaroo) is high.

Consumption of processed meats including salami, sausages, frankfurters, and bacon is high.

Anything prepared from white flour, such as white breads, wraps, noodles, and pasta, is considered refined grains.

Lollipops, biscuits, muffins, and cakes are examples of sweets.

Dairy products with a high fat content, such as butter

Palm oil and other processed vegetable oils can be found in fast food and many processed packaged snack foods.

Excessive alcohol consumption.

Small servings of excellent quality, lean red meat should be fine, but as intake is personal and depending on a variety of factors, consult your doctor or a dietitian for specific recommendations.

It's crucial to remember that changing one's diet alone may not be enough to improve one's mental health, and that getting medical care for medication and/or counseling may be necessary.