by Tony Gjokaj October 14, 2021 5 min read
When I first started my fitness journey, I was an overweight and depressed kid. My regular meal was a Big Mac with a Milkshake from McDonalds.
I can remember on several occasions how I used food for emotional comfort.
As exercise was introduced into my life, I decided to make better choices in food. In doing so, I recognized one thing very quickly: how important nutrition was for mental health.
The nutrient quality of food plays a huge part in both our brain and body. In fact, a plethora of research has shown that dietary patterns can contribute to depression.
One study in particular assigned 67 depressed adults to either 7 individual consulting sessions with a dietician or 7 social support group sessions for over 12 weeks. The individual consulting sessions helped the depressed individuals make adjustments to their diet and limit junk food.
At the end of the study, 8% of the social support group saw remission in their depression, 1/3rd of the dietician consulting group experienced remission.
This is why nutrition can potentially be a powerful thing to utilize in our journey towards better mood and wellbeing.
So in this post, we are going to go over 5 ways nutrition can help with depression.
Let's dive in!
Omega-3's are known as essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies do not typically make them. We need to consume them from our diets. These fatty acids have been shown to help with brain development and functioning.
Omega-3's consist of both EPA and DHA fatty acids, and according to research, EPA has the potential to help those with depression. According to one meta-analysis that analyzed double-blind studies, EPA has been shown to improve depressive symptoms when individuals consume over 1000mg of EPA.
We can get Omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon and tuna, or from nuts like walnuts, and almonds.
The following are recommendations for proper Omega-3 consumption:
Zinc and Magnesium are some of the more common deficiencies in the Western Diet. Deficiencies in both of these nutrients can lead to depressive symptoms.
Zinc is a mineral that helps brain function, our immune system, and more. It has been shown to help improve mood in those that are deficient in zinc.
Zinc has also been utilized to help support optimal levels of testosterone.
You can get zinc from meat, eggs, and legumes.
Magnesium deficiency is very common in developed countries like ours. This is due to the fact that grains don't contain sufficient levels of magnesium.
We typically don't consume enough nuts or leafy vegetables in our Western diets.
Research has shown there is a connection between low magnesium intake and depression. In addition, magnesium has shown that regardless of age and gender, supplementation has shown to improve depressive symptoms.
Magnesium has also been shown to be a modulator for Vitamin D. Magnesium optimizes Vitamin D levels in those who are deficient, and lowers it in those with levels that are too high.
We will talk more about Vitamin D and it's importance in mental health later.
Protein is an essential macronutrient needed for optimal brain health. This is because protein is broken down into amino acids, which produce neurotransmitters that can help with depression and anxiety.
Protein consumption is connected to higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, motivation, and focus. It also helps produce tryptophan, which helps regulate serotonin, another neurotransmitter.
Amino acids are produced from high-protein foods: from foods like eggs, meat, fish, and beans.
There is a connection between Vitamin D, mood, and wellbeing.
While not everyone is deficient in Vitamin D, some of us don't get enough. People who don't get regular sun exposure (lack of Vitamin D) typically encounter depressive symptoms.
In the winter where sunlight is limited, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is quite common. Seasonal Affective Disorder is where a person experiences depression as a result of a lack of sunlight exposure.
SAD usually impacts many during the winter time, with these symptoms going to remission around spring and summer time.
It does not hurt to get some sun, especially if it helps you live better.
There is a link between high processed foods and depression. Those who tend to eat processed foods or junk foods regularly are more than 50% likely to develop depressive symptoms compared to those who don't.
People who also eat junk food are less likely to be physically active, eat less nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, etc), and less healthy fats (nuts, fish, olive oil, etc).
Based on the recommendations we've covered, we wanted to give you one final recommendation: consider a Mediterranean Diet. According to research, the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to help decrease symptoms of depression.
While the diet isn't a specific diet per-say, it's more like a set of recommendations you can follow. If you have followed the recommendations from this post, you will have most of it down:
If you follow these recommendations, you should see some improvements to your mood.
To conclude, we want you to always consult with a doctor or physician when making changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Any questions or comments? Feel free to email us at email@example.com, or direct message us on Instagram.
Until next time!
Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.
by Tony Gjokaj November 16, 2023 2 min read
I have been reading quite a few articles surrounding depression and its connection to lifestyle habits.
In recent years, scientists have started to discover that depression is not just a "chemical imbalance".
It's much more complex than that, and a lot of evidence is pointing towards positive habits helping to alleviate or reduce the risk of depression.
by Tony Gjokaj November 14, 2023 3 min read
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.
This can lead to decreased energy levels, mood disturbances, decreased performance at work or school, and can negatively impact overall health and quality of life.
If you're tossing and turning at night, you're not alone.
In this post, we are going to go over the 5 natural ways to ease insomnia.
Let's dive in!
by Tony Gjokaj September 18, 2023 3 min read
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and bone health.
Despite its importance, many people do not get enough magnesium from their diets alone.
This is where supplements like magnesium glycinate can be helpful.
Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium that is easily absorbed by the body and has several potential health benefits.
In this post, we'll explore the benefits of magnesium glycinate and why it may be a valuable addition to your overall health and wellness plan.
Let's dive in!