Eating to beat depression: Foods that improve your gut health also improve your mental health
05/11/2019 // Ethan Huff // Views

With rates of depression seemingly on the rise all around the world, science has been searching for answers beyond just prescribing people more pharmaceutical-based "mood enhancers." And the one thing that honest seekers of truth keep coming back to as a solution is proper diet, which researchers from The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom have confirmed plays a critical role in mental health.

Healthy diet and lifestyle choices combined, a paper recently published by researchers from the school has found, offer synergistic benefits in terms of helping to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with depression, at the very least. In a best-case scenario, a complete dietary and lifestyle overhaul may, in fact, bring a "cure" to depression entirely, depending on its severity and cause.

Outlined in a Daily Mail (U.K.) recap of this study are some of the most promising contenders, including the addition of more vitamin D-rich foods and lifestyle habits into one's daily regimen.

Vitamin D is excellent for brain health

Wild-caught fatty fish and grass-fed dairy products are among the foods naturally densest in vitamin D – though the best option would seem to be spending more time outside in the sun, without applying sunscreen products, which block the ultraviolet rays necessary for the skin's production of the vitamin D pro-hormone.

Balanced blood sugar also balances brain health

Keeping one's blood sugar levels balanced is also critical, which means eating less "cheap carb" foods and foods loaded with refined sugars. Fiber-rich foods are a better alternative, as are foods naturally high in protein and healthy fats.


Don't forget your magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods are said to be another helpful mood-enhancer, as they help to relax the body and balance mood. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and stress, all of which can bring a person down and make him or her feel bad about life.

Grass-fed meats can go a long way in promoting a healthy brain

Grass-fed meat products, and particularly those in the "red meat" category, are naturally rich in iron and other nutrients that help the body to produce more red blood cells, which help to keep the body optimally oxygenated. A deficiency in red meat, as well as fermented beans, sprouted nuts, and leafy green vegetables can deplete the body's oxygen, and thus lower mood.

Omega-3s, the "brain" nutrient, are an absolute must

Getting back to wild-caught fatty fish, this powerful "superfood" also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been specifically shown to help improve the function of the brain by increasing the fluidity of brain cell membranes. Conversely, low levels of omega-3s have been shown in studies to contribute to feelings of depression, hence why many naturopaths will recommend omega-3 supplementation to their depressed patients.

Essential amino acid tryptophan boosts serotonin levels in the brain, helping you to "feel good"

Foods that contain the essential amino acid tryptophan – you may recognize this one as the "sleepy" nutrient found in Thanksgiving turkey – can be helpful in addressing depression symptoms because tryptophan helps the brain to produce more of the "feel-good" hormone serotonin. Such foods include not just turkey but seeds, bananas, and oats, as well as full-spectrum proteins like whey.

"Maintaining a healthy diet by eating three balanced meals every day will ensure you get all the key nutrients that help the body to function properly," say Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition at Healthspan, and Dr. Aria, a Clinical and Behavior Psychologist, writing for the Daily Mail.

To learn more about how eating whole foods and skipping the processed stuff can be a game-changer for many people trying to balance their brain health naturally, be sure to check out and

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