How Diet Can Help Relieve Depression | – Guide

Status: 09/12/2022 9:00 p.m.

Well-being, diet and weight are closely linked. People with depression often observe weight changes. You benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet and regular meals.

Anyone who falls into depression can no longer cope with daily life as before, and eating and drinking are often out of step. Appetite changes with the disease of the soul: some sufferers like to eat almost nothing and lose weight – others try to console themselves with food and often with sweets, which can lead to a spiral of sugar-induced cravings.

What almost all depressed people have in common is that they often lack the motivation and strength to eat meals regularly and eat a balanced diet. As a result, the body lacks important nutrients.

Weight change due to antidepressants

Antidepressants affect weight differently.

In addition, many depression drugs promote weight changes: indirectly through their depressant effect or directly through drugs that interfere with appetite regulation or sugar metabolism. Weight loss can lead to dangerous underweight, especially in older people. Anyone who, in turn, involuntarily gains weight due to the drug and is helpless against this side effect, is further burdened with depression.

Affected persons who start drug treatment should therefore monitor their body weight in the first few weeks and inform the doctor of any undesirable changes. He can then take countermeasures in time – if necessary with other drugs. It should be noted that you should not discontinue or switch antidepressants today. In any case, weight changes should be taken seriously, as they are not just an aesthetic problem, but can lead to high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome.

Nutrition therapy as a mainstay of support in depression

Since subthreshold inflammation often plays a role in the development and persistence of depression, a low-sugar anti-inflammatory diet has a favorable effect against the disease. Recent research, about a According to an Australian study, a healthy diet is an important pillar in the treatment of depression.

belly fat shines

Various healthy foods on a wooden table.  © photo colorbox: -

An anti-inflammatory diet with spices, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids is good for depression.

A seemingly very effective step is to reduce any excess weight, as abdominal fat produces pro-inflammatory hormones. Certain inflammatory neurotransmitters (cytokines) have been shown to be increased in very overweight people – especially those with heavy bellies – as well as in people with depression. The highest concentrations of some cytokines were found in depressed patients who were also obese. the The researchers explain this by saying that cytokines influence the release of messenger substances in the brain and, among other things, can reduce the production of serotonin – the so-called happiness hormone.

In addition to the described low-sugar diet, mindfulness training helps with weight loss.

Gut-brain axis: healthy eating for the gut against depression

Plain yogurt served in a glass © fotolia Photo: ji_images

Probiotic bacteria could help improve the condition.

In addition, scientists suspect an influence of the bacterial gut microbiome: unfavorable bacterial composition and inflammation of the gut could affect the brain and psyche, as in 2019 study showed. Our stomach and our brain communicate via certain nerve pathways, the so-called gut-brain axis. Certain types of gut bacteria appear to be able to positively alter mental balance. Some people call it “psychobiotic gut bacteria.” Sufficient amounts of pro- and prebiotics – such as vegetables, whole grains, yogurt or kefir – promote healthy gut bacteria.

Switching to a healthier diet is always a complementary attempt at treatment. The nutritional therapeutic approach to depression is particularly promising in cases of increased body weight and inflammatory process.

Diet for depression: tips

  • Respect the structure of the meal: Eat three regular main meals if possible. Don’t skip meals, but don’t snack between meals either. Good helpers for more structure are weekly plans and shopping lists. You may want to think about who can help you eat fresh, healthy food on a regular basis.
  • Practice mindfulness: Eat mindfully, with pleasure, without negative feelings. Be good to yourself. Give your body what it needs.
  • Eat anti-inflammatories: Cut back on “empty” carbs (sugary drinks, light pastries, high-sugar foods) and choose fiber-rich whole-grain products instead. They fill you up and promote healthy gut flora. Gradually increase protein and vegetable intake. Vegetable proteins from nuts, seeds, legumes and mushrooms are recommended. Vegetables, fruits and herbs provide anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. The omega-3 fatty acids contained in particular in fatty marine fish (salmon, herring, mackerel) as well as in linseed oil and walnut oil support the body in the fight against inflammation.
  • emergency ration: Prepare for the “dark days”, prepare healthy treats, for example nuts, dried fruits, vegetable crisps or dark chocolate, possibly a satisfying medicinal protein shake.
  • Drink enough: Drink before you feel thirsty – a total of two liters per day or more. We recommend water and unsweetened teas, not sugary drinks.

Food at a glance

Recommended Not recommended
Bread, cereals and side dishes such as pasta, potatoes, rice (2 palm-sized servings/day) whole grain bread;
oatmeal, muesli without sugar;
Wholemeal pasta, brown rice, boiled potatoes
white bread, toast, croissant, crusty bread, rusk, wheat and milk rolls, pretzels;
Durum wheat pasta, husked rice, fries, croquettes, mashed potatoes, pancakes, hash browns
Snacks and nibbles
(max. 1 small handful)
occasionally: at least 70% dark chocolate; Nuts, dried fruits, vegetable crisps Confectionery, sweet pastries, sweet dairy products (see below), ice cream, crisps, savory snacks
(1-2 servings/day – one
a large handful will do)
all low-sugar fruits;
varieties high in sugar in moderation: Banana, persimmon (Sharon), grapes, sweet cherry, pineapple, mango, honeydew melon and pear
canned fruit, candied dried fruit and fruit puree
(3 times 2 handfuls/day)
all types of lettuce, preferably with bitter substances (chicory, dandelion), beet greens, kohlrabi, carrot tops in smoothies, cucumber, fennel, artichokes, legumes, carrots, spinach, zucchini, all types of cabbage, radish, asparagus, sauerkraut and all types of mushrooms; Herbs moderately: Mixed vegetables with butter or cream
nuts and seeds
(approx. 20 g/day = a small handful)
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds; Flax seeds, chia seeds Peanuts and salted nuts
fats and oils
(about 2 tablespoons/day)
flaxseed oil*), wheat germ oil*), chia oil*), hemp oil*); olive oil, rapeseed oil, walnut oil; little butter;
fry: coconut oil;
*) Production in the absence of oxygen, heat and light (“Oxyguard”/”Omega-safe” process). Flaxseed oil and wheat germ oil work best when combined
Pork and goose fat, palm fat, mayonnaise, sunflower oil, safflower oil
(approx. 2 litres/day)
Water, unsweetened tea – especially green tea and herbal tea; up to three cups of coffee without milk Soy drink, fruit juice, soft drinks, mixed milk drinks (see below)
fish and seafood
(2 servings/week)
Fish and seafood – fresh or frozen Fish marinated in mayonnaise or cream, breaded fish
sausages and meat
(max. 1-2 servings/week, up to 100 g raw weight each)
sliced ​​turkey breast, chicken;
less common:
fillet of beef, veal, game; corned beef
All other deli meats, usually pork (due to high arachidonic acid content) – whether deli meats, boiled, grilled, fried or bockwurst;
breaded meat
Milk and dairy products,
(up to 300 ml per day)
eggs (about 3 per week);
Milk 1.5% fat, buttermilk, cottage cheese up to 20% fat, plain yoghurt 1.5% fat; Harz cheese, grainy cream cheese; Rare:
cream, sour cream, fresh cream; Cheese up to 45% fat i. Tr.: semi-hard cheese, soft cheese, feta, mozzarella, cream cheese
sweet finished products such as pudding, rice pudding, fruit yoghurt, fruit curd, cocoa preparations, fruit buttermilk

More information

A woman is sitting with her hands in front of her face.  © picture alliance / photothek Photo: Thomas Trutschel

Depression is widespread and the symptoms are not always clear. But treatment should begin as soon as possible. After

A bowl of oriental lentils is on the table.  © NDR Photo: Claudia Timmann

A selection of light and tasty meals to support depression relief. After

Woman standing on a scale holding a donut and an apple © Photo: Maksymiv Iurii

Changing your diet involves replacing bad habits with healthier ones. After

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Nutrition Literature | 09/12/2022 | 9:00 p.m.

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