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It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “If I could just lose 10… 20… or even 30 pounds, then I’ll be happy.”
But, it turns out that there is something far more powerful than weight loss when it comes to feeling better — a balanced diet.
In fact, the mood-boosting benefits you can achieve from choosing a healthier diet have nothing to do with your weight. So, if you want to feel better, happier and more vital, it could be as simple as changing the food you eat – no prescription anti-depressants necessary.
And, that is good news for anyone who worries about the weight gain, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, constipation, irritability and anxiety that often come with these drugs.
How your diet affects your mood
Yes, maintaining a healthy weight is important but the good news for anyone suffering from depression is that just eating healthier can help you feel better, regardless of whether or not your lose weight.
The most likely reason for the way an improved diet decreases symptoms of depression lies in your gut.
Your diet is the main factor that affects your gut flora. And, you see, the health of your flora plays a big part in how much inflammation is in your body.
When these microbes are healthy, they can do their jobs and help eliminate chronic inflammation – one of the risk factors for depression.
But, when they are not healthy… when they’re being fed sugar and other empty calories, their anti-inflammatory work is stopped – leaving you to spiral down the path of poor health and eventual depression.
In fact, multiple studies have shown that eating a healthy diet not only decreases your chances of developing depression, improving your food choices is also an effective strategy for decreasing existing depression.
Smart dietary changes you can make
Eating healthier and changing your dietary lifestyle can feel overwhelming, especially when you are struggling with depression. But, there are some basic changes you can make to reap big benefits.
Here are the simple diet rules participants followed in an Australian study that demonstrated how eating a more Mediterranean diet improved depression to help their mood and alleviate depression symptoms:
- Per day: Six servings of vegetables, five servings of whole grains, three servings of fruit, two servings of unsweetened dairy, one serving of raw, unsalted nuts and three tablespoons of olive oil.
- Per week: Three servings of lean red meat, two servings of chicken, up to six eggs and at least two servings of fish.
- Extras: No more than three servings per week of sweets, refined cereal, fried food, fast food and soft drink.
- Alcohol: No more than two glasses of red wine a day, only with dinner.
So, if you have been battling depression or even just want to feel better on a day-to-day basis, a good starting place is the food you eat. Small changes in your diet can have big benefits, even if you never lose a pound.