Food is fuel, right? Unfortunately, food can also be poison. The first place I always recommend looking when depression is present is at food. What are you eating, what are you not eating? How can you strengthen this very important pillar of health? Today I wanted to share a little bit on two common foods that can make depression symptoms worse. These two foods are consumed in very high amounts today (sometimes unknowingly) and they both unfortunately promote a state of inflammation in the body, which is a large factor behind symptoms of depression.
So let’s dive right in to the first food that is known to contribute to depression symptoms and imbalance in the body.
— Refined Sugar
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you probably knew this one was coming. Sugar comes in many different forms. It even shows up in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and grains. But where you really need to watch out for it is in refined foods like pastas, baked goods, breads, cookies and candy. The typical North American diet relies heavily on these refined simple carbohydrate foods and not enough on the complex carbs that come from healthier sources and provide more nutrition.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates has been linked to a higher risk of depression and other mental health issues. And on the flip side, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains has a significantly lower risk for depression.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that high refined carb intake (sugar) causes more inflammation in the body and the brain, leading to depression. This is largely why I have begun to view depression as a symptom of an imbalance rather than a disease in itself.
Incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in to your diet every day to reduce inflammation and begin to lessen the symptoms of depression.
While the carbohydrates are an important place to look in the sugar conversation, it’s also important to just look straight at sugar. Are you consuming candy consistently, drinking sugary drinks like pop, consuming baked goods often? These are all sources of large amounts of refined sugar.
Sugar is highly addictive, the cravings that kick in when you’re weaning off can be hard to handle. Slowly lessen your daily sugar intake and make sure to consume lots of water, fruit and vegetables to help curb the cravings.
And now let’s touch on the second food that may trigger inflammation and therefore depression.
Dairy is highly inflammatory to the human body and this in turn marks it as a big culprit in the cause behind depression. It has become such a staple in the North American diet and in very large amounts.
Unfortunately it’s a very problematic food, being linked to addiction (hello cheese), aggression and depression. Dairy contains morphine-like compounds which is the cause behind feelings of addiction.
Many people experience stomach and bowel irritability when consuming dairy, this causes problems in the gut, which have a direct affect on the brain and mood regulation.
There are so many plant-based options for your favourite dairy foods out there these days, I highly encourage exploring some of these and significantly lowering your dairy intake. Keep track of any improvements in gut function and mood as you do this to really identify if dairy was causing you a problem.
When making any diet changes, I recommend you start slowly. Cutting out highly addictive foods like sugar and dairy can be really hard on your system and also really hard to stick with. Become aware of how much your consuming on a daily basis and then lower that a little each day. Experiment with alternative sweeteners and fruits in place of refined sugar. And try out some amazing plant-based versions of dairy products like cheese and milk.