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Diet and Depression

This is a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for ages and a media quote has spurred me on. I think we all know someone suffering from depression and the incidence seems to be on the rise. Depression is a multi-factorial disorder, something that was highlighted to me in a conversation to a journalist this week. I don’t believe that just changing one thing will be the cure. You can have the perfect diet but could still suffer, so instead it’s seeing diet as part of the picture and combining this with medication, therapy, sleep patterns, exercise and all round lifestyle.

Looking through some of the recent evidence on diet and depression an instant pattern emerges. Eating a balanced diet that relies less on processed convenience foods and more on eating from scratch is the answer. More fruit and veggies, wholegrains, olive oil, fish, low fat dairy is associated with a decreased risk of depression. 

An antidepressant food score was worked out by researchers, looking at the nutrient density of foods that have clinical evidence for helping in depression. The top foods were oyster, seafood, organ meats, leafy greens, lettuce, peppers and cruciferous vegetables. 

Top antidepressant nutrients (in no particular order):

Folate

Iron

Omega 3’s 

Magnesium

Potassium

Selenium

Thiamine

Vitamin A

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

Zinc

Tryptophan

Fluid

Now it’s usually more helpful to think about nutrients in terms of foods, so here are some top ways you can boost your antidepressant nutrient intake.

  1. Eat regular meals – the brain needs glucose as fuel and eating regularly helps prevent blood sugars dropping too low which can give symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, lethargy.
  2. Include healthy fats in the diet  to nourish the brain. Oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil are all good ones. Aim for 2 portions of oily fish a week.
  3. Wholegrain foods are good sources of zinc, and B vitamins. Think wholegrain bread products, brown rice, brown pasta, grains.
  4. Ensure you eat protein regularly for tryptophan, iron and zinc. Tryptophan is thought to play a key role as it is a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin. Wholegrains, fish, poultry, eggs and seeds can help with this.
  5. Green leafy veggies contain folate, iron, potassium and magnesium plus vitamin C. Another reason to get crunching your veggies.
  6. Orange veggies such as sweet potatoes, orange peppers, carrots and apricots plus green leafy veggies are sources of vitamin A.
  7. Even slight dehydration can affect your mood. The brain is 78% water. Reducing caffeine and replacing with non caffeinated drinks, mainly water will help. Moderate intake of alcohol can be ok but watch the interactions with medications and too much alcohol can increase anxiety/depression.

Following a Mediterranean style of eating with a focus on fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, protein, oily fish and healthy fats is a great way to help combat depression. It may not be the cure but it is definitely a large part of the puzzle. 

Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, July 2017

Diet quality and depression risk: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Journal of Affective Disorders, January 15, 2018

Antidepressant foods: An evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression. World J Psychiatry. 2018 Sep 20;8(3):97-104 

 

No Bake Breastfeeding/Breakfast Bars (wheatfree, glutenfree, dairyfree).

Having just given birth to my gorgeous baby boy  I’m in need of quick, easy, healthy snacks that I can eat whilst breastfeeding. Here is my latest favourite  version of a flapjacky bar. It’s also a great option as a breakfast bar and a good snack for the whole family.

Breakfast biscuits, bars and eat on the run snacks seem to be a common thing these days, but the bought versions are often high in sugar. This option is much healthier plus you can adapt it to suit your own taste.  These would also be super easy for children to make but are not suitable for under 1 year olds due to the honey.

What I love about these is it literally took me 10 minutes to mix them up and then they just go into the fridge for 2 hours (or overnight), next morning, Wham, Bam, there’s your tasty bars all ready and waiting!

These bars are nutritious so you don’t have to feel compromised. Pair them with some fruit and you have a balanced, healthy breakfast/snack on the go. The oats provide a low glycaemic index base to help keep your blood sugar levels stable, the almond butter provides a little fat in a health monounsaturated form. You will be getting vitamin E from the sunflower seeds, this is an important antioxidant that plays a role in heart health and is anti-inflammatory. Magnesium from the almonds and seeds aids energy production, giving you a great boost to your day.

Dietitian UK: No Bake Breastfeeding/Breakfast Bars

No Bake Breakfast Bars
Yields 12
Super quick, no bake breakfast bar recipe packed with slow release energy.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
112 calories
15 g
0 g
5 g
3 g
0 g
26 g
1 g
7 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
26g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 112
Calories from Fat 43
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 0g
2%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 1mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 15g
5%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 7g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100g oats (gluten free if needed)
  2. 25g sunflower seeds
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  5. 60g raisins
  6. 75g almond butter
  7. 50g honey
Instructions
  1. Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins together.
  2. Place the almond butter and honey into a microwave safe bowl, heat for 30 seconds and stir. Heat for 10 seconds at a time until it is all melted.
  3. Mix the melted ingredients into the oaty mixture.
  4. Press into a greased and lined 20cmx20cm tin and refridgerate for 2 hours or overnight.
beta
calories
112
fat
5g
protein
3g
carbs
15g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/
Amusingly I actually made these the night I went into labour, they made a great snack during the early stages of things!

If you like flapjack bars then why not try my Sunshine Bars my Banana Flapjack or my superhealthy Oaty Bars.

I would love to see/hear your pictures, comments and variations that you try out 🙂 tweet me or comment on the blog post please.