Depression: What’s Eating You?

depression-mood-food-eating-habitsWhen it comes down to it, eating disorders are not about “food.” However, what you eat can play a key role in improving your mental and spiritual health along with your physical health. Eating disorders are symptoms of depression. Depression can be helped through functional medicine which looks at your body as a whole by finding the cause of why you may be depressed. Some of the causes of depression are related to the following:

Intestinal problems. Your immune system may become compromised due to food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities which result in intestinal problems, thus affecting your mood.

Low blood sugar. Proper absorption of protein in your foods helps to balance mood by stabilizing blood sugar.

Folic acid deficiency. One third of the population cannot metabolize folic acid, which can cause depression. Individuals with a personal or family history of heart disease or breast cancer run a higher risk of folic acid deficiency.

Hormone imbalance. Your hormones including estrogen, testosterone, adrenal and thyroid all communicate with neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters balance your mood and thought process. When your hormones are out of balance, they have difficulty communicating with these neurotransmitters, therefore mood and thoughts are altered.

Circadian rhythm. When this rhythm is compromised, you may find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Here are some general recommendations:

Know the foods which you are allergic, intolerant and/or sensitive. An elimination/rotation diet may be helpful in pin-pointing offenders. However, in the work that I do with saliva and urine testing, I have been able to hone in on specific offenders instead of playing a guessing game. As mentioned above, food allergies and the resultant inflammation have been connected with depression and other mood disorders. By eliminating offending foods, mood can be stabilized.

Obtain adequate vitamin D. Deficiency in this essential vitamin can lead to depression. Supplement with at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or exposing your arms and legs to the sun, for approximately 15 minutes per day, will produce 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D. The latter may not be possible for those who live in cold climates.

Increase your intake of foods high in omega-3 fatty acid. Your brain is made of up this important fat, and deficiency can lead to a host of problems. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include flax seed, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and certain beans along with other foods lower on the food chain. Individuals who suffer from severe depression may also choose to supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 mg of purified fish oil a day.

Take adequate B12 (1,000 micrograms, or mcg, a day), B6 (25 mg) and folic acid (800 mcg). These vitamins are critical for metabolizing homocysteine, which can play a factor in depression. Although vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products, B6 and folic acid may be found in bananas, spinach, lentils and legumes to name few foods.

Exercise vigorously five times a week for 30 minutes. Exercise acts as a natural antidepressant in your brain and also improves sleep.

Darci Noonchester, MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian at Reconnect with Food® at Inner Door Center

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Date: Friday, February 11th, 2011

Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Cost: $25, and increases to $35 one week prior to workshop

Register here!

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  1. Awesome post, Do you have a twitter account I can follow?

  2. I always found the most effective method to acquire every one of your b vitamins is to simply take a mutliple b vitamin each morning. they have 100% of the recommended daily amount. In addition some of the finest resources of vitamins are always found in fruit and veggies, you can’t go wrong with them.

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