Do Any Foods Help with Depression?
I was recently diagnosed with mild depression. I'd like to treat it without medication, if possible. I've started exercising and getting more daylight, but I'm wondering about diet. Have any foods been shown to help with depression?
At this time, no particular food or diet can be recommended to treat depression. However, some foods may be better than others for people who are depressed.
Early research suggests that people who eat "healthy" diets, or diets heavy in vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, and whole grains, have a lower risk for depression than those who consume diets full of processed food, fried food, refined grains, sugar, and beer. More research is needed to determine whether healthy diets protect against depression, or whether people who are depressed are more likely to eat unhealthy foods.
Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency have been linked to depression, and folate supplements have been used to improve response to antidepressant medicines. Dark green vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes contain folate. Good sources of vitamin B12 include fish and dairy products.
These vitamins can't replace an antidepressant medication, but may help improve your mood. If you have low B12 or folate levels, your healthcare provider will likely give you a supplement.
Low omega-3 fatty acid intake has been linked to depression. Some studies suggest eating more omega-3 fatty acids may improve symptoms of depression, though more research is needed. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat found in fish oil and certain plant and nut oils.
While more research is needed to better determine the effects of diet on depression, a healthy, balanced diet is important for good health in general. Talk to a healthcare provider or nutritionist if you want more information about the best foods to eat for your overall health.