Depression is being regarded as one of the great mental health pandemics of the modern age. It’s being diagnosed more often, affects people more severely, and conventional methods of treating it aren’t doing the best job when we take into account all the extra side effects.
For decades, depression was believed in large part to be caused by genetic factors, but nutritional research is starting to suggest that there’s actually a dietary link to be found, specifically diets that cause inflammation in the body – it should be noted, however, that inflammation only plays a role in rates of depression, and is not necessarily the primary cause. Read on to understand inflammation’s role in the body and how it can lead to depression.
At its most basic, inflammation is a natural response in the human body that is orchestrated by the immune system when it encounters a foreign body that it believes is a threat. Inflammatory markers are used to measure just how much of a response our immunity has put together, with higher markers indicating that the body is under more stress. Inflammation can be caused by a number of factors, such as a bad diet, smoking cigarettes, or taking certain medications, along with recreational drug use, and even stress. Diet is an aspect that has long been left to the side in favour of the others, but more and more doctors and nutritionists are putting emphasis on the role that diet can play.
Fast foods are a great example, especially those that are prepared through deep frying. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are some of the unhealthiest substances that we can put in our bodies, and they can cause an immediate and severe inflammatory response. But eating too much meat, too much sugar, and too much salt has similar effects, all of which cause our immunity to strike out. In fact, research suggests that a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome may be another play to be aware of, which can cause our own bacteria to find its way into the blood stream and be attacked.
Cutting Down On Inflammation
It seems more important than ever that we begin to address as many causes of our depression as we can, and inflammation is a good place to start. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is vital, which include fast foods; white, refined foods, including white bread and white sugar; and any foods that have added sugar. Aiming for a more whole food, plant-based diet is ideal, where we increase the number of whole foods that we consume, which includes unprocessed vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and as many beans as possible. Nuts have also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, so eating a handful of nuts can help, and are a perfect snack while watching TV or totes betting.
While eating a healthy, whole food-based diet is not the cure to everyone’s depression, it can help reduce the severity and make long-term management much more achievable.