Depression, just like obesity is a rising epidemic in today’s society. The hectic lifestyles we all lead make us more and more detached from each other, and most importantly – from ourselves.
One of the most dangerous things about depression is that it can get us into a vicious cycle of unhealthy self-destructive habits.
Depression sufferers are more inclined to also suffer from various eating disorders as well as binge eat or develop an addiction to sugar (which is known to temporarily give you a sort of ‘high’ ) or junk foods.
Although the treatment of depression cannot be narrowed down to eating habits alone, they are definitely an important pillar in our mental as well as physical health.
So, can a vegan diet actually help with depression?
There is increasing evidence that demonstrate similar results: plants are powerful tools to help us fight both depression and anxiety.
The Physician’s Committee on Responsible Medicine’s Ulka Agarwal, M.D, explains that,
“Depression is related to inflammation in the body and low levels of serotonin. Plant-based foods naturally lower inflammation in the body because they are naturally low in fat and high in antioxidants. High vegetable intake increases the amount of B vitamins in the diet, which have been found to affect mood.”
A study from 2013 showed that women who favored a high inflammatory diet (including high amounts of red meat and refined foods) were 41 percent more likely to be depressed. And finally, a recent study from the American Journal of Health Promotion showed that 36 participants self-reported reductions in anxiety, depression and fatigue, and improved their productivity both at work and outside of work when placed on a vegan diet.
One of the main reasons plant-based diets are helpful
There is a lot of exciting new research being conducted about the human microbiome and how it relates to wellness.
Other ways to help boost your mental health naturally
is to ensure you’re eating the right kinds of food. A happy, healthy vegan diet includes supplements, optimal levels of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as good flavors from umami-rich foods. Another way to ensure your diet can help fight depression is to reduce your intake of sugar. Diets high in sugar are linked to depression, and studies have shown that foods with a “high glycemic index” (like sweetened foods, white pasta, and more) are linked with a higher risk for depression.
But it’s important to note that while a healthy diet can help improve mental health, depression and anxiety cannot always be solved with diet alone. Even with a healthy diet and lifestyle, some therapeutic or pharmaceutical intervention might be helpful. It is also important to seek both professional help, and support from peers, who have managed to overcome their depression, and can easily relate to how you are feeling.
Dea is passionate about pursuing gentle, pure living in all its forms. She’s a veg and fruit foodie, who loves to explore the healing properties of plant-based foods and then fully indulge in their sun-filled taste. She believes that “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”