Sugar Got You Down?

Every year, 15 million Americans suffer from major depression making it one of the most common mental illnesses in the country. While this illness is very common, it is also manageable. There are ways to significantly decrease depressive symptoms without medication. It all begins with your diet.

Sugar and Depression

While it makes almost everything undeniably delicious, sugar may be the very thing that causes your negative mood swings, uncontrollable anxiety and depression. Scientists have found a strong correlation between high levels of sugar intake and the risks of depression. Large consumption of sugar could potentially reduce the levels of bodily proteins in the body that help develop important brain cells. Sugar also can trigger inflammation in the body which has been linked to chronic depression. Inflammation in the body is a result of our immune system responding to infections and injury by kicking in as a defense mechanism. Even though sugar seems to be harmful when trying to maintain a healthy physique and mental state, there are some sugars and foods that can actually help fight depression levels (To see full list visit http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/foods-eat-every-day-beat-depression/).

Healhy Sugars

Foods that Help Beat Depression

Apples

Dark Leafy Greens

Bananas

Walnuts

Plain Yogurt

Avocado

Prunes

Berries

Whole Wheat Bread

Mushrooms

Berries

Onions

Oranges

Tomatoes

Strawberries

Beans

Grapefruit

Seeds

Coconut Sugar

Apples

Organic Honey

Broccoli

 

Exercise and Depression

Sugar intake is not the only thing that can increase depression, a lack of exercise and poor dieting can also contribute to an unhealthy mental state. Exercise is considered an all-natural treatment to combat levels of depression. Exercising along with proper dieting has a lot of health perks such as lowering your blood pressure, increasing daily physical activity, and your overall lifespan. [2] High-intensity workouts release endorphins in the body that often make us happy! With a combination of proper dieting and exercise, you can lower your levels of stress, anxiety and depression all at once! Below is a list of exercises that are best at releasing “feel good” endorphins in our bodies (to see full list visit https://www.simplemost.com/best-exercises-relieve-anxiety-depression/):

Weight Training

Weight training improves mood and self-esteem, regulates sleep, and reduces stress, which can all contribute to overall feelings of wellbeing.

Yoga

Yoga focuses on deep breaths and internal focus, which can be very beneficial for people dealing with anxiety or depression.

Tai Chi

The workout involves mental concentration, physical balance, muscle relaxation and relaxed breathing, which can all play a role in regulating mood.

Dancing

Studies show that dance classes can reduce anxiety more so than regular physical education. In addition to being physically active, many people see dance as a form of personal expression, which can help strengthen the connection between the mind and the body.

Hiking

In addition to mood-boosting cardiovascular activity, hiking involves being outside, and spending some time in nature can have even more beneficial mental health effects.

 

The Perfect Combination

If you suffer from depression, medication might not be the only method for treatment. With a combination of a healthy diet and exercise (a wholistic approach), you may immediately begin to feel better; especially if you are prone to suffering from chronic depression. Healthy diets that consist of whole foods are ideal for individuals who suffer from depression. Currently, studies use varied vitamins and viable nutrients in foods to see if they help reduce the levels of depression.

Vitamins such as folate, vitamin B12 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids are among the many that have shown to have a positive effect on boosting mental wellness. It is very important to steer clear from foods that are high in saturated sugars and cut back on alcohol which may make depressive symptoms worse.

Exercise can also boost your mood and energy levels. According to Keith Johnsgard, PhD and author of Conquering Depression & Anxiety through Exercise, not only can exercise help reduce symptoms of depression, but it also gives people the ability to feel empowered.  Living a holistically healthy life is very important and it is never too late to start! You can start living a healthier life today with the simple step of changing your diet and increasing your daily exercise.

Resources

1.        “Depression.” Mental Health America, 9 May 2017, http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression

2.        Sack, David. “4 Ways Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2 Sept. 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health

3.        Sgobba, Christa. “Is Your Diet Making You Depressed?” Men’s Heath, 28 July 2017 http://www.menshealth.com/health/sugar-and-depression

4.        Maffei, Michelle. “Non-Diet Foods with Sweet Benefits.” SheKnows, 18, March 2014, http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/827623/10-sources-of-good-sugar

5.        “Depression and Diet.” WebMD, August 2016, http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery

6.        Borchard, Therese. “10 Foods I Eat Every Day to Beat Depression.” Everyday Health, 12 Feb. 2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/foods-eat-every-day-beat-depression/

7.        Harvard Health. “Exercise is an all-Natural Treatment to Fight Depression.” Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression

8.        Myers, Wyatt. “7 Great Exercises to Ease Depression.” Everyday Health, 25 Sept. 2014, https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression-pictures/great-exercises-to-fight-depression.aspx#06

9.        “A Holistic Approach to Treating Depression.” WebMD,  April 2016, http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/holistic-medicine#3

Hello, World!