Depression is a mental illness that can range from a mild to a severe degree and can affect a person’s life drastically for the worse. It induces feelings of worthlessness, listlessness, and suicidal thoughts – to name a few.
We are none of us new to depression; we have seen it all around us, and some of us have even gone through with it. Some of us are even now engaged in a constant battle with this monster. So we all understand how important it is to be able to find all the ways we can deal with this problem, and how we can help those closest to us as well.
True, medications are what help a depressed person the most, but these medications also have any side-effects. I am not saying we should discard our medications, but I do believe we should allow nature to help us as much as possible.
What we put into our body has direct consequences on our mental and physical well-being. Your dietary habits are so important to your mental health that there is an entire field called nutritional psychiatry that studies this.
The link between diet and depression
A study conducted a meta-analysis to find out whether there was any connection between dietary patterns and the risk of depression. Although more research is needed, the study concluded that a healthier diet is linked to a lower risk of getting depression while a ‘western-style’ diet might be linked to a higher risk.
Findings of the study
The study concluded that a diet rich in the following elements might be linked to a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms:
Fewer animal products
While excessive consumption of the following food items might be linked to a higher risk:
Fewer vegetables and fruits
Since higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked to better mental health and lower consumption to the opposite, it stands to reason that there are certain elements in natural produce that help us stay in better shape, mentally.
But it also stands to reason that one can’t eat too many fruits and vegetables; at least, not enough of them to get the required amount of the nutrients to actually fight depression. What you can do is start juicing. Juicing fruits and veggies will provide you with a lot of the nutrients, and regular intake of these juices will help you battle your mental demons.
Make sure you have a good machine, though. A cheap juicer might give you juice that oxidizes way too fast or may generate so much heat that most of the nutrients end up lost. If you are looking for one, here are some of the best juicers you can get your hands on.
5 top nutrients to fight depression and where to get them from
Since diet plays a fundamental role in how a person feels both physically and mentally, it automatically follows that you should take care of what you put in your body. But which nutrients are especially beneficial to fight depression? Let’s take a look at the top 5 nutrients that you can put in your body to battle depression and which fruits and vegetables you can juice to get the maximum amount of said nutrients.
Studies have found an interesting link between folate and depression. Some people have a variant gene that doesn’t allow them to absorb folate properly, and this variant is also found to be linked to disorders like schizophrenia and depression. Also, there is evidence to suggest that you might not be able to absorb your depression medication very well if you have low folate levels in your blood.
This means that folate is an important factor when battling depression, and may also help to prevent depression from occurring in the first place.
Where to get folate from:
You can find folate in dark leafy green vegetables, in citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, beets, beans, broccoli, and eggs.
Juicing some leafy greens and beets with some lemon or lime will give you a glass of juice packed with folate.
Vitamins A, C, & E
A study carried out on patients suffering from anxiety and depression showed that the addition of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E to the diet of these patients lead to a considerable improvement in their condition.
The study also found that the patients suffering from anxiety and depression had lower levels of these antioxidants as compared to the control group and that their depression and anxiety improved as their vitamin levels increased.
Where to get vitamin A, C, and E from:
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) is commonly found in carrots, tomatoes, and leafy greens, vitamin C is found in berries, and citrus fruits, cabbage, and broccoli while vitamin E can be obtained from spinach, apples, carrots, and celery.
You can take one or two ingredients from each of the three categories and make yourself a wholesome glass of juice that will have you feeling good in no time at all; provided you take it regularly and keep track of your regular medication.
Betaine helps in the production of serotonin and regulates homocysteine. The role of betaine in improving the effects of a common drug administered to people with mild-to-moderate depression was studied, and it was found that s-adenosyl-methionine had improved effects when taken with betaine.
Where to get betaine from:
Betaine was first discovered in sugar beets, and to date, beets remain one of the best sources of it. It is also found abundantly in spinach, wheat, and shellfish.
Juicing red beets, and their leaves, along with some spinach will give you a concoction that packs a hefty punch of betaine.
Lycopene has been known to reduce inflammation in the central nervous system, and a study aimed at understanding its effects on the symptoms of depression found that it alleviates depression-like symptoms.
Another study found that a tomato-rich diet has an independent correlation with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms. The study also suggested that tomatoes could also be linked to the prevention of the aforementioned symptoms.
Where to get lycopene from:
As already mentioned, tomatoes are an extremely rich source of lycopene; so rich that a diet loaded with tomatoes is often linked to being happy. Lycopene is also found in other red fruits and vegetables like apricots, pink grapefruit, papaya, watermelon, etc. The major source, however, is tomato – and its related products.
You can make yourself some yummy tomato juice, or soup, and you can drink watermelon juice all summer… keep yourself hydrated and happy at the same time!
Omega-3 fatty acids
Apparently, nations that consume more fish have lower occurrences of depression, according to this Harvard article. Many studies have propped into this bewildering fact and have come to the conclusion that the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish are actually behind this.
Omega-3 fatty acids may relieve depression due to their anti-inflammatory properties and are said to be ‘promising natural treatments for mood-disorders’ in the same Harvard article discussed above.
Where to get omega-3 fatty acids from:
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found abundantly in fish, as already mentioned, but not everyone likes to consume a lot of fish. But to battle your depression or to nip it in the bud, so to speak, you need to take the nutrient regularly.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. You can get your vegetarian omega fix by juicing greens like kale with an apple for sweetness!
Some juice combinations for a complete fix
When you are fighting depression, you don’t need just one of the aforementioned nutrients. You will need all of them to fight the war. Let’s take a look at a few juice combinations you can try in order to get the maximum benefits:
1. Beetroot + Carrot + Spinach + Orange = Packed with betaine, folate, vitamin C, and some omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Strawberries + Kale + Brussels sprouts = Full of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Watermelon + Lemon/ Lime = Rich in lycopene and vitamin C
4. Beets + Kale + Spinach + Lemon/Lime = High in betaine, folate, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
You can, of course, try whatever combination you want to. Just make sure that you make a balanced glass of juice that isn’t too rich in sugary fruits that it becomes unhealthy, or is so heavy with bitter greens that you find it unpalatable.
This article was written by Aisha for Kitchen Faction, a site that aims to provide a platform for all things kitchen.
At Kitchen Faction