Reducing depression through anti-inflammatory diet
There’s ever growing scientific evidence emerging that recognises chronic inflammation as the root for depression. There’s no doubt that other factors are also involved but inflammation is a major factor. In other words, chronic inflammation has profound effect not only on our physical wellbeing but also on our mental health and the way we behave.
As a result, some pharmaceuticals are working on developing anti-inflammatory drugs targeting depression.
As far as I’m concerned, the problem with this tactic is that you’re merely switching between one form of drug to another, and all drugs (without exception) have side effects which at times can be quite devastating.
Luckily, drugs are not essential in fighting inflammation. One of the most effective methods to reduce inflammation is through your diet. Ketogenic diet which is high in high in healthy fats and low in net carbs (total carbs minus fibre) has a proven track record for quelling inflammation.
A ketogenic diet is a diet that derives most of its calories from fat and only a small number of calories from carbs.
The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates for energy. Normally, the carbohydrates you eat are turned into glucose in the body, which is used for energy around the body and in the brain. But, if you don't eat enough carbohydrates, your body has a back-up system of burning fat instead. The liver can use stored fat and the fat you eat for energy. Stored fat is broken into two parts, fatty acids, and ketone bodies. Ketone bodies power the brain instead of glucose. This state of having a lot of ketone bodies in your blood is called "Ketosis." In fact, one of the most remarkable effects of nutritional ketosis is that your C-reactive protein (CRP) level (an inflammatory marker) effectively disappears.
The regular ketogenic diet has two to four times more fat by weight than protein, and very little carbohydrates every day. This means not eating foods that are made from starch or sugar. High-carbohydrate foods are foods like fruits, bread, pasta, grains, cookies, and ice cream. Also, you have to increase your intake of fatty foods, like oils, butter, and fatty meats. It's also important to not eat too much protein. You should only eat just enough protein so you don't lose muscles. Too much protein reduces the ketone bodies in your blood and blocks fat burning.
A ketogenic diet can be good for losing weight for most people, and is very good for treating seizures and fending off depression.
Now that we’ve worked that out, let’s talk a little bit about the nuts and ‘bolts’ of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet.
Raw nuts are a great source of healthy fat and the recommended amount is about 30 grams per day (about a fist full). Macadamia, pecan and walnuts are a good choice. Research has also linked regular consumption of nuts to weight loss, lower systolic blood pressure, lower risk factors of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, improved cardiovascular health and increase longevity.
Most nuts are also rich in (plat based) omega-3 but it is essential to also consume animal based omega-3. You simply cannot afford to get this wrong, especially if you’re battling with depression and other inflammatory based conditions. Good sources for animal based omega 3 are cold water fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, fish roe, krill oil and tuna (in moderation due to large deposits of mercury).
Another excellent anti-inflammatory is Vitamin D which is best obtained from regular (and sensible)
sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to depression.
If you suffer from depression, it may be well worth your while to take measures to reduce the level of inflammation in your body. Usually, no drugs are necessary for this. In fact, my recommended strategy is to adjust your diet, and make sure to get enough animal-based omega-3 and vitamin D.
Raw organic nuts are a great source of healthy fats, but I wouldn’t recommend hanging your hopes solely on nuts. You also need to get rid of the processed foods (which are loaded with inflammatory ingredients) and switch to real foods, because that’s where you’ll find important antioxidants and nutrients that help combat inflammation. And less inflammation equals to less depression. I would strongly encourage you to consider a ketogenic diet at least for a few weeks.
Also make sure not to neglect your gut health, as impaired gut flora is also frequently an element of depression. One of the easiest ways to help ‘reseed’ your gut with beneficial bacteria is to take good quality probiotics and to eat traditionally fermented and cultured foods such as kefir, natto, kimchi and fermented vegetables, most of which are also easy and inexpensive and can be made from scratch at home.
If you found any of this helpful please share it with others, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.