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Nutritional Advice for Depression

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Depression is the most prevalent of all the emotional disorders. Symptoms may vary from feelings of minor sadness to sheer misery and dejection.

When sadness persists and impairs daily life, it maybe an indication of a depressive disorder. Depression brings together a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, which together constitute a syndrome.

“Melancholia”, which was, for centuries the encompassing name for all emotional disorders is considered Major Depression. Clinically, in major depression, five symptoms on a daily basis for at least two weeks are considered a diagnosis.

The most common symptoms of depression are feelings of acute sense of loss, inexplicable sadness, loss of energy and loss of interest. The patient usually feels tired and lacks interest in the world around him. Sleep disturbance is frequent. Usually the patient wakes up depressed and is unable to return to sleep.

Other disturbed sleep patterns are difficulty in falling asleep, nightmares or repeated waking. Often, emotions of guilt, oppressive feelings and self-absorption are apart of this syndrome. Cases of severe depression may also be characterized by low body temperature, low blood pressure, hot flushes and shivering.

Food for Thought

Diet has a profound effect on the mental health of a person. Even a single nutritional deficiency can cause depression in susceptible people. Nutritional therapy can be used to build up brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, that affect mood and are often lacking in depressed people.

Eat foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains, green vegetables, eggs and fish. The diet of people suffering from depression should completely exclude tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate and cola, all white flour products,sugar, food colorings, chemical additives, white rice and strong condiments. The diet should be restricted to three meals.

Fruits can be taken in the morning for breakfast with milk and a handful of nuts and seeds. Lunch may consist of steamed vegetables, whole wheat chappatis and a glass of buttermilk. For dinner, green vegetable salad and all available sprouts such as alfalfa seeds, mung beans, cottage cheese or a glass of butter-milk would be ideal.

Add protein and carbohydrates to your diet: Incorporate protein into your diet. Protein helps to keep sugar levels stable. You can find protein in nuts, yogurt, beans, fish, chicken, tofu and lentils.

Water should be a very important part of any nutritional program, 6-8 8 ounces per day.

Seek out foods that are high in Omega-3 (a fish oil): This fish oil has been shown in many studies, to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and reduce plaque buildup in your blood.

By reducing your bad cholesterol, you are helping your body to fight off stress and relieve anxiety, tension and even prevent heart disease! Fish that are high in Omega-3 are excellent ways to help your blood stream.

Folic Acid: Folic Acid (required for energy production) is considered brain food. The brain needs it to work properly. It helps to prevent anxiety and fatigue. Folic acid works best when combined with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

Much research has indicated that a deficiency of folic acid may include depression, insomnia, anorexia, forgetfulness, hyper-irritability, apathy, fatigue and anxiety.

You can find Folic Acid in the following foods:

-Whole grain breads
-Fortified cereals
-Dried peas
-Dried beans
-Leafy vegetables
-Fruit

Most multivitamin complexes contain folic acid.

GABA: GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid help reduce anxiety, allows rational decision making, promotes restful sleep and enhances workout recovery. It has also been shown to have similar effects as the benzodiazepine drugs.

You will also feel more relaxed and notice that you are sleeping better. The recommended dose for GABA is 700-750 mg – 3 times daily – talk to a medical professional about using GABA.

Magnesium: The supplement magnesium has been found to aid in the management of depression. Taking 200-300 mg of magnesium 2 to 3 times daily has been shown to help.

SAM-e (Sammy): short for S-adenosyl-methionine, SAM-e has long been used in Europe to treat depression and is now available in the U.S. It seems to work faster than St. John’s Wort.

Look for tablets with enteric coatings which improve absorption, and also go for the new butanedisulfonate form. Results can be seen in as little as two weeks, but often takes at least a month for the best effects to be felt.

Selenium: Selenium, an important antioxidant, is a trace mineral found in soil and food. It protects neurotransmitters. Deficiency in selenium has shown to have a negative impact on mood. It also helps to reduce bad cholesterol and keep the heart healthy.

You can get much of your selenium from dietary sources such as: Alfalfa, fennel seed, ginseng, butter, garlic, liver, Brazil nuts, shellfish and other fishes. You can find it in sunflower seeds, yarrow, wheat germ and Brewer’s yeast.

Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 is also known as “thiamine.” In many studies, B1 has shown to have positive effects on the nervous system and mental well being. Vitamin B1 is found in peas, soybeans, fortified breads, cereals, pasta, fish, pork, whole grains and dried beans. Prolonged intake of large amounts of alcohol depletes your body’s supply of vitamin B1.

Vitamin B6: Lack of Vitamin B6 has been known to cause anxiety and depression. The formation of certain brain chemicals from amino acids requires this vitamin. It affects the nervous system.

The recommended Dietary Allowances for adults (25+ years) is 2.0 for men and 1.6 for women. The best sources of vitamin B6 are meats (particularly organ meats such as liver), whole grains and wheat germ.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is needed for energy, brain function and a healthy nervous system. It helps to combat depression, stabilize PMS and helps to protect against anemia and it may help fight cancer. The best food sources of Vitamin B12 are liver, kidney, oily fish, beef, pork lamb, cheese, eggs and milk.

Zinc: and essential mineral, has been found to have positive effects on the nervous system as well as helping to produce a calming effect. Most multivitamins contain zinc. Food sources for zinc are Oysters, meat, poultry, nuts, beans and dairy products.

Foods You Should Avoid:

What you don’t eat may be even more important than what you do eat. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar, because they tend to worsen depression. If you can’t avoid them, then at least cut down.

Avoid Caffeine: Caffeine is something many people in America and Europe are used to bringing in their daily lives. Though many studies have shown that this addictive stimulant can help produce symptoms of depression, insomnia and anxiety.

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, many sodas and even certain medications. Always ask your doctor about a medication before using it. Also, ask the doctor if there is an alternative medication if your medicine contains caffeine.

Reduce Processed and Refined Foods: Processed food can rob your food of nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to fight off stress and promote good health. Try to buy whole foods, unprocessed foods and try and stay away from “instant” foods, preservatives, artificial flavors, saturated fat and MSG.

Reduce Sugar Intake: Too much sugar can rob our body of essential nutrients. Yet don’t be so fast as to replace the sugar with Stevia the natural sweetener from the Stevia plant. Artificial sweetener can also cause anxiety as well as other health concerns.

Reduce Alcohol Intake: In small amounts, alcohol can be good for your heart but too much alcohol is not a good thing for your body and too large of an intake increases your body’s need for extra vitamins.

The body has a harder time using oxygen. As a result, you can become more sensitive to stress – which in turn can cause anxiety reactions. It can also cause depression.

The Effects of Alcohol on Depression: How does alcohol contribute to Depression Disorders? Research has shown that alcohol in high doses has numerous health hazards.

As well as many other things that can: increase your need for extra vitamins due to disturbed eating patterns interfere with the body’s ability to use oxygen, to process food absorb vitamins. As a Result: High alcohol consumption makes you more sensitive to stress.

Chronic abuse of alcohol is often associated with depression-like symptoms, which can reduce the ability to solve problems, which in turn can lead to anxiety. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poor work performance, relationship difficulties financial difficulties. This can produce stressors that worsen anxiety.

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