Melancholic Microbiome: The Depression & Diet Connection
People with depression or vulnerability to depression should be encouraged to eat plant-
based diets with higher levels of whole grains, fiber from veggies and fruit, and fish. may
benefit from eating more fiber, fish, and grains, as they are a measure to alter the gut-brain axis.
“Depression is a highly prevalent disorder which exerts a major economic impact in all European countries. Not only the common cold of psychiatric disorders but one of the most prevalent medical conditions.”
There is now overwhelming evidence to support the fact that gut microbes have a major impact on central neurochemistry and behavior, especially stress related disorders such as depression. Recent studies have shown that people with depression have
alterations to their gut microbiome (known as gut dysbiosis = bacteria imbalance), but the reason for this dysbiosis is uncertain.
Over recent decade, dietary patterns in Europe and elsewhere have undergone major changes—with increased intakes of red meat, high fat foods, and refined sugars. It is possible that a poor quality diet may bring about the altered microbiota observed in depression. Narrowing of dietary diversity with reduced intake of essential nutrients can reduce availability of substrates for specific microbial growth and this could contribute to the intestinal dysbiosis of depression.
Such “Westernization”of diets together with sedentary lifestyles result in modifications to the gut microbiota, which could partially contribute to the increasing incidence of chronic inflammatory disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disorder and depression.
If we are to improve the nutritional value of food and positively impact mental health, we need to more fully understand the biological interactions between food and microbiota. The new recommendations, published in Clinical Nutrition, come after an in-depth review of science linking diet, our gut bacteria and mood—an area the research team say is a “new paradigm” in understanding and potentially treating depression. They noted that individuals who consume a Mediterranean diet have lower rates of depression, adding that a Mediterranean diet may have antidepressant properties. Assuming this is the case, which components of the Mediterranean diet mediate the effects? High levels of polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids are candidates, noting that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are vital building blocks of the brain and have been consistently linked with depression.
“In countries where there is high consumption of fish, there are lower
rates of depression”, noted the research team. Also noting that multiple trials of omega-3 supplementation have shown a benefit as well, although, quality and source are key.
The team also notes that fermented foods including probiotics have long been associated with a health benefit. The principal rationale for the use of probiotics in treating major depression rest in their potential for suppressing the pro-inflammatory component of depression.
One area of great benefit has been established with IBS, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome.
Several placebo controlled studies indicate that a bifidobacteria is highly effective in treating the condition. This is relevant given the fact that up to 40% of patients with IBS have co-morbid depression and many bifidobacteria have anti-inflammatory activity.
While the use of probiotics may not yet have enough clinical evident, the expert recommendations say that prebiotics and fiber, do. Higher fiber diets, from vegetables, fruit and some whole grain and beans, are associated with fewer symptoms of depression. This is a fiber diet higher than 27g per day.
4 Foods That Help With Depression
Depression affects many people worldwide and, thankfully for all of you suffering from this mental illness, there are ways to decrease your risk by just changing your diet. Foods that are beneficial to depression symptoms are wild blueberries, salmon, walnuts, and leafy greens. Although the benefits may not be immediate, it is important to remember while adding these foods to your diet that you are not only decreasing your risk of depression but you are also making long-lasting healthy choices:
1. Wild blueberries
Wild blueberries are great if you are on a clinical depression diet as they contain higher levels of Vitamin C and polyphenols than most fruits. These active compounds help promote brain function during stressful times of your life when you tend to get depressed. Blueberries can be added to just about any food for a delicious desserts including yogurt, pie, muffins, granola, and pancakes for those you with a sweet tooth.
Salmon contains omega-3s which is very important to help with your everyday brain functioning. It also contains vitamin-D, a vital vitamin which the average everyday person is typically deficient in. By adding salmon to your diet, you will be getting a greater amount of vitamin-D which in return reduces your risk of depression. To add salmon into your diet, try smoked salmon, baked salmon dishes, or even a salad with salmon cut up and placed on the top of your favorite vegetables.
3. Leafy greens
Leafy greens are excellent for mood-stabilizing foods as they provide your body with high amounts of nutrients that your body needs for proper brain functioning. The leafy greens that are great for depression include kale, collards, spinach, cabbage, and watercress. Leafy greens can easily be eaten with a salad, boiled for dinner, or placed on a sandwich during your lunch break at work. Other vegetables that contribute to depression benefits are bell peppers and broccoli, which are also great additions to your favorite salad.
If you are a fan of walnuts and mood-stabilizing foods, you are in luck as walnuts provide omega-3, vitamin E, and antioxidants, all of which contribute to reducing the risk of depression while contributing the extra nutrients bodies need for energy throughout the day. To make eating walnuts a treat, try making your own walnut pie or try a trail mix full of goodies and healthy clinical depression diet foods.
B12 and DEPRESSION Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and a low B12 is typically associated as one of the potential causes/problema. Many who are taking an acid blocker will have an extremely depleted B12. This can be corrected with the right mix of B vitamins, and proper nutrition. We want a healthy B12 level for many reasons, including mood, energy, cognitive strength and heart health.
Note: There are some great supplements on the market from probiotics, to healthy fats, and even powerful antioxidants that clean and power the cells. But it is important that you know what you need, and how much, and get some professional advice with buying only from trusted, proven companies and sources.
Resources: Professor Ted Dinan, APC Microbiome Ireland and the
University College Cork – EU FP7 Project MyNewGut – a five year multidisciplinary initiative set up to investigate the role of our gut microbiome in obesity and behavior disorders.