Why Does A Depression Diet Affect Mood?

A depression diet can cause or contribute to depression problems. For example a diet that is too low in the amino acid tryptophan has been found to increase depression. (15)

Another example is consuming inadequate amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins, folate, and vitamin B-12. Such diets have also been found to relate to depression. (13)

You can learn more about the impact of fatty acids on mood by clicking here.

But why does a depression diet contribute to depression?

Gabriel Cousens, MD, in his very informative and helpful book, Depression-Free For Life: An All-Natural, 5-Step Plan to Reclaim Your Zest For Living, explained that chemicals called neurotransmitters relay nerve impulses throughout your body. These nerve impulses make up the communication system that your brain and nerves use to carry out many functions. (6)

The neurotransmitters that seem to have the most impact on your moods are...

  • serotonin

  • dopamine

  • noradrenaline (also called norepinephrine)

  • glutamine

  • gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA)

  • endorphins
Your body produces these important chemicals from the nutrients that you consume. Amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, and carbohydrates are all needed.

When your diet is insufficient (a depression diet) your body doesn't have what is needed to produce neurotransmitters. The result can be depression and other psychological symptoms.

Not consuming enough of the right nutrients is not the only depression diet problem, however. A depression diet can also be taking harmful substances into your body.

Catherine Carrigan, in Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide, listed ten common dietary substances that are most likely to contribute to depression. These depression diet substances include...

    "1. Anything moldy, malted, or fermented.

    2. Anything processed.

    3. Anything dried or aged.

    4. Anything made with sugar or honey.

    5. Anything made with yeast.

    6. Any meat raised with antibiotics or steroids.

    7. Leftovers unless frozen.

    8. Alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, chocolate, and colas.

    9. Food colorings, chemicals, preservatives, and additives.

    10. Tap water." (4, pp. 126-7)
Some of these substances, such as sugar -- including honey, fructose, dextrose, maltose, lactose, and sucrose -- cause your body to use up vitamins and minerals without adding anything positive or healthful.

Nancy Appleton, in Lick the Sugar Habit pointed out that sugar drains your body of its nutritional resources. (2, pp.12-20)

Consuming sugar and simple carbohydrates -- such as white breads and pastries -- also cause your blood sugar to rise quickly.

Then, your body releases insulin and glucagon to break down the sugar, controlling its level in your blood. If too much insulin and glucagon are released, your blood sugar level can drop too low, a condition called hypogclycemia.

Michael Murray, N.D., wrote in his book, which addresses depression diet problems, Natural Alternatives to Prozac, "Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is another common cause of depression...The association between hypoglycemia and depression is largely ignored by most physicians -- they simply never even consider it as a possibility despite the fact that several studies have shown hypoglycemia to be very common in depressed individuals." (10, p. 77)

Other substances that cause depression diet problems -- such as caffeine, nicotine, food colorings, and preservatives -- destroy nutrients, over stimulate your bodies glands, interfere with the way your body processes nutrients, weaken your immune system, and cause other harmful effects which contribute to depression.

So What's A Depressed Person To Do?

What is the solution to the depression diet problem?

The solution is two-fold...

  • eat healthy

  • supplement with vitamins, minerals, trace metals, aminoacids, and ployunsaturated fats -- as needed.

Dr. Cousens explains that changes in your diet and taking dietary supplements can often help your depression. Vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and fatty acids all can help depression. When adding vitamins and other supplements to your diet for depression you can take one of two approaches...

  • You can take multi-vitamins and other multi-supplement combinations

  • or you can take individual supplements.

Do you need help in deciding what to eat and what supplements to take?

Trying to change your diet to improve your mood can be confusing. But diet and nutrition help is available.

There are many books and other resources that can help you plan a healthy, nutritional diet. For information concerning books and other resources that can help you alter your diet to help your depression, click here.

In short, a depression diet is a diet that contributes to depression.

Your diet may be a depression diet if you are not consumming sufficient amounts of amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, and carbohydrates. These nutrients are needed by your body to produce important brain chemicals.

Also, foods can deplete your body of important nutrients, cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, and over stimulate your glands, thus, contributing to depression.

To help your depression using diet you must make sure your body is getting the important needed nutrients. You need to avoid unhealthy foods as well.

For a list of references cited in Depression Diet -- Why Does A Depression Diet Affect Mood, click here.