How Food and Diet Can Help with Depression (cont.)

Medical Reviewer:

And although it still isn't clear whether folate is an effective treatment for depression, getting enough of this important vitamin is part of an overall healthy diet. Other sources of folate (folic acid) include:

  • asparagus,
  • spinach,
  • avocado,
  • broccoli,
  • fortified breakfast cereal,
  • eggs, and
  • tomato juice.

Fish Oil

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna: These oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Your body doesn't make omega-3s, so eating them is the only way you can get them. And like folic acid, omega-3s help build neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which help regulate mood. Getting enough omega-3s helps your body produce serotonin.

A study in 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that patients suffering from an episode of major depression improved when they were given omega-3 supplements.

An added bonus: Fatty acids from fish like omega-3s may also improve circulation and help lower your risk of heart disease.

Flaxseed and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3s.

Fortified Cereal

Whole grain cereals fortified with vitamin D should be included in your diet. You can get two benefits from one serving: Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, and complex carbohydrates can make you feel good. Complex carbohydrates help your body to release the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

Vitamin D is important for fighting depression as well. A large study by researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found a strong link between adults with a history of depression and low vitamin D levels.

Other sources of vitamin D include low-fat dairy products and sunshine (though don't risk getting sunburned).

Foods That May Make You Feel Worse

While some foods can boost your mood, others may contribute to mood problems. M. Cohn, RD, CDN explains that when you eat too many sweets or highly refined carbohydrates (breads and pastas made from white flour, for example), your blood sugar will rise rapidly and then fall.

A small study in the April 2012 issue of Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics found that women with type 2 diabetes experienced mood swings as their blood sugar fluctuated.