Posted June 11, 2017

Diet and Depression: Are they linked to What we Eat?

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Observational studies have repeatedly demonstrated relationships between habitual diet quality and depression.

Nutrition plays a very important role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression. Poor appetite, skipping meals, and a dominant desire for sweet foods are some of the common food pattern during depression. Amino acid supplements such as tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine have also been found to reduce symptoms as it helps in formation of neurotransmitters which in turn alleviate depression. When we see the diet of depressed people it is found that their nutrition is far from adequate. They make poor food choices and generally select those food items which contribute to depression.

Omega–3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are the some of the common nutritional deficiency seen in depressed people. One to two grams of omega-3 fatty acids is shown to be safe for healthy individuals, but for patients with mental disorders, up to 9.6 g can be given. Diet lacking in fruits and vegetables further lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

What to eat for better state of mind?

Low glycaemic index (GI) foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pasta, etc. or high quality protein food like meats, milk and other dairy product and eggs, omega-3 fatty acids , and foods rich in vitamin and mineral like Vitamin B12, folate, iron, selenium, zinc is helpful in overcoming depression.

1. Why Carbohydrate?

Diet low in carbohydrate may precipitate depression, since the production of brain chemicals serotonin and tryptophan which promote the feeling of wellbeing, is triggered by carbohydrate rich foods.

2.How much Proteins?

Protein of high biological value like meats, milk and other dairy products, and eggs contains all essential amino acids. Neurotransmitter dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine and the neurotransmitter serotonin is made from the tryptophan. If there is a lack of any of these two amino acids, there will not be enough synthesis of the respective neurotransmitters.

3. Omega-3

The main PUFA in the brain is DHA,derived from the omega-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid (AA) and docosa tetraenoic acid, both are derived from omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid. Experimental studies has also revealed that diets low in omega-3 PUFA lead to considerable disturbance in neural function.

4. Vitamin B

According to a study in Neuropsychobiology, supplementation of nine vitamins, 10 times in excess of normal recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for 1 year improved mood in both men and women. The mood improvement was particularly associated with vitamin B2 and B6 status. Adolescents who have vitamin B12 deficiency at border line develop signs of cognitive changes.

5. Minerals

Studies have shown the possibility that magnesium deficiency is the cause of depression and other mental health problems including IQ loss and addiction. Especially “magnesium treatment” has been hypothesized to be effective in treatment of depression resulting from intraneuronal magnesium deficits. These magnesium ion neuronal deficits may be induced by stress hormones, excessive dietary calcium as well as dietary deficiencies of magnesium. Further study is recommended on this. Fortifying refined grain and drinking water with biologically available magnesium to pre-twentieth century levels is recommended. Research has also pointed out that women are twice depressed than men.Difference starts from adolescence and becomes more pronounced among married women aged 25-45, with children. Women of childbearing age experience more depression than during other times in their lives. There is also a possibility that iron deficiency causes fatigue and depression

In order to simplify the facts and provide a solution for “What to eat and What not To”, Medi-Skool offers you a Diet Plan. We request you to call on +91 9868478179; 9891048999 or write at in case of any query.

Sample diet plan
  • Early morning – 1-2 glass of water
  • Breakfast – Vegetable stuffed omelette with bread/ cheese sandwich
  • Mid-morning – Fruits or vegetable juice and 1 handful of almonds and walnuts
  • Lunch – Fruits or vegetable juice and 1 handful of almonds and walnuts
  • Evening – Tea and biscuits
  • Dinner – Vegetable soup, cooked vegetable, Vegetable salad, Roti

Reference - T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses.Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82.