I don’t think people truly understand the impact of what they eat on their mood. Processed foods, hydrogenated oils, sugar, and lots of bread and cracker-like snacks can certainly contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety. For optimal mental health, I advise my patients to eat a clean, Paleo (also called primal or ancestral) diet: eating whole or nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding refined sugar, gluten, pasteurized dairy products, and processed factory foods like Fritos and Oreos. I also recommend taking fish oil supplements, vitamins B-12 and D, a multi-vitamin, and a multi-mineral.
Leaky gut is clinically known as increased intestinal permeability or hyperpermeability, a condition in which food is allowed to pass through the small intestinal lining. Substances leak into the bloodstream that shouldn’t be there, causing bloating, gas, and sometimes mood disturbances.
We’ve always known that depression causes interruptions in sleep, and that a lack of sleep makes persons more susceptible to mood disorders. But studies now show that sleep problems can cause mood disorders and that sleep deprivation can rewire the brain’s emotional circuits.
Since most psychiatrists and primary-care physicians don’t run a full thyroid panel, I see a number of patients who have undiagnosed hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, which causes symptoms of fatigue, apathy, and depression.
LOW VITAMIN D AND B-12
These are the two most common nutrient deficiencies for my patients who have depression symptoms. Both vitamin D and B-12 are essential for positive mood.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Therese Borchard is an author and she is the founder of Project Beyond Blue, an online community for people with chronic depression and anxiety. She is associate editor at PsychCentral.com, and a contributor to Yahoo!, CNN.com, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, and other media outlets. She is especially passionate about the science of nutrition, gut health, and holistic therapies to treat depression, anxiety, and chronic illness.