(Natural News) Following a balanced diet keeps your body healthy and helps prevent diseases. But according to a nutritionist, eating a plant-based diet is also one of the best ways to boost your mood and reverse depression.
Depression and eating habits
At Vitafoods Europe 2019, Julie Ward, a plant-based nutritionist and the founder of Fresh Food Alchemy (FFA), told delegates how changing her diet helped reverse her depression. Through FFA, Ward teaches people with depression how following a plant-based diet can boost their physical and mental health.
Ward’s depression was also responsible for the chronic health issues that she experienced during her childhood. She shared that she was able to overcome years of depression by making changes to her lifestyle and eating habits.
Throughout her childhood and teenage years, Ward suffered from severe depression, which she believed was due to her genes. However, Ward also experienced chronic constipation along with her condition. She was convinced that there was a connection between her mental health and her gut health.
Ward noted that recent studies have helped her understand the possible link between gut health and mental health. One such study revealed that serotonin, the “happy hormone,” is produced in the gut.
A separate study published in 2016 has found that people with anxiety had a higher chance of developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The researchers noted that people with IBS were more likely to suffer from depression.
Research also showed that consuming fatty foods regularly can increase your risk of chronic diseases linked to inflammation. Additionally, prolonged psychological stress activates the same pro-inflammatory markers as dietary fat.
This means that poor eating habits are a possible risk factor for depression and gastrointestinal problems may eventually result in depression (Related: Mediterranean diet linked to lower depression risk, according to study.)
Foods to avoid
Ward cautioned that it is best to limit or avoid foods that contain arachidonic acid (a pro-inflammatory) such as:
Ward shared that she refrained from eating eggs for several years and that it significantly improved her health. However, after unknowingly eating a cake that contained eggs, she woke up the next day with sore knees.
She then realized that the pain in her knees was caused by the egg in the cake she ate.
Several studies have revealed that a fiber-rich diet is linked to less depressive symptoms. Findings showed that polyphenols in foods like chocolates, extra virgin olive oil, fruits, tea, vegetables and wine help prevent psychiatric and cognitive distress.
According to a 2018 evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression, these are the best superfoods to eat if you want to improve your mood:
- Chicory greens
- Dandelion greens
- Fresh herbs
- Swiss chard
You can boost your intake of these superfoods by making delicious green smoothies.
Other foods that can lower depression symptoms include:
Ward was convinced that following a plant-based diet was best for her condition when she gave up red meat in 1987 and noticed a remarkable improvement. She then decided to eliminate dairy, eggs, fish and meat from her diet.
Ward said that positive lifestyle changes, like exercising regularly and following a plant-based diet, are behind the remarkable improvements in her mood. She concluded that significantly changing her diet helped address her digestive problems and lifelong struggles with depression.