Nutrition against depression: 6 rules for a strong psyche

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, depressive disorders are among the most common illnesses and, in terms of their severity, the most underestimated worldwide. According to estimates, about 20 out of 100 people, that is about one in five people, suffer from depression or chronic depressed mood at least once in their life. Anxiety disorders are also among the most common mental illnesses and are becoming more common in children and adolescents.

There are several reasons why the number of mental illnesses is increasing. In addition to digitization and the influence of social media, the increasing pressure to perform and the fast pace of the “new world”, traumatic experiences such as violence, neglect or abuse in childhood, as well as flight and migration, have a long-term effect. impact on those affected.

The number of cases of mental illness is growing

The spiral of negative news about increasingly devastating weather events, isolation, fear and uncertainty in times of the coronavirus pandemic and reports of the war in Ukraine are also fueling the number of cases.

Uma Naidoo, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a nutritionist, believes that eating well can improve your well-being and even alleviate mental illness to some extent. In her bestseller “Nutrition for the Psyche,” she explains which foods and nutrients are good for you and which are bad for you. Results are based on current scientific studies.

Relationship between diet and symptoms.

During his training as a psychiatrist, Naidoo saw certain patterns between his patients’ diet and the onset of mental disorders and symptoms, previously dismissed as side effects of medications such as psychotropics, and recognized that even small changes in patients’ habits Foods can have a major effect on your health if they have symptoms and even reduce them. “We have a long tradition in Western medicine of thinking of the mind and the body separately,” says Naidoo.

The Miracle of the Gut-Brain Axis

However, science is now certain that there is a connection between the gut and the brain, the so-called gut-brain axis. Studies have shown clear connections between a patient’s gut health and her mental state. The two organs communicate with each other through the gut-brain connection. With a healthy diet, the microbes in the gut produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine. Two substances that control our mood and feelings.

Naidoo also recognized it. She continued her education in the field of nutrition and trained as a cook so that she could give her patients individual nutritional recommendations in addition to traditional psychiatric care. The psychiatrist also established Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, the first clinical specialty in nutritional psychiatry in the United States, to expand her own research.

Individual nutritional recommendations as a key to the goal

An individual nutritional recommendation is particularly important during treatment, emphasizes Naidoo. Since the microbiome, the totality of all living microorganisms in the gut, differs from person to person, no general nutritional recommendation can be given for the treatment of mental illness.

“It’s different how someone reacts to a certain diet,” says Naidoo. “Some diets that have worked very well for one person may not work as well for another.”

Small changes can make a big difference

However, basic recommendations can be derived from the results of the current study. Even small changes like adding more vegetables and berries, as well as healthy fats like omega-3s, olive oil, and nuts, can improve mood and focus, Naidoo explains.

A recent large-scale study also showed that a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables of different colors, low-fat dairy products, and high-quality nuts, seeds, and oils can have a beneficial effect on alleviating symptoms in mental illnesses such as ADHD. .

Studies Show Effects of Diet on Depression

A 2017 study also followed depressed test subjects, divided into two groups, for three months. In the group that ate healthier, nearly a third of people were no longer depressed. In the control group it was only eight percent. Therefore, the effects of a healthy diet should not be underestimated.

However, Naidoo also emphasizes that a healthy diet can in no way replace psychiatric treatment, but rather significantly and effectively complements it. “However, for most people, it is more effective if you combine nutrition with psychotherapy and medication,” says the psychiatrist. Psychotherapy is especially important to achieve lasting improvement in symptoms.

Six nutritional foundations for a strong psyche

However, everyone should pay attention to some basic nutritional principles to support their mental and psychological health. Individual nutritional recommendations extend the basic concept.

1. The 80-20 rule

Naidoo advises patients to follow the 80-20 rule, which is based on the so-called Pareto principle. 80 percent of the diet should be covered with unprocessed, natural, high-fiber foods as possible. The remaining 20 percent can sometimes be “unhealthy” and satisfy cravings; after all, nutrition must satisfy the body and the mind.

2. The more colorful the better

The expert emphasizes that at each meal you should consume as many naturally-derived foods of different colors as possible, true to the motto “eat the rainbow”.

  • Three quarters of the plate should be included. vegetables Be full.
  • The remaining quarter sits of healthy fats like olive oil and nuts What long-chain carbohydrates like whole grains or quinoa together. They only allow the blood sugar level to rise slowly and thus prevent food cravings.

Additionally, care must be taken to ensure adequate protein intake. The general rule of thumb is one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, so a 65-kilogram woman should consume about 65 grams of protein, for example. based on meat or fish, legumes or dairy products.

3. Favor green leafy vegetables

Dark green leafy vegetables are particularly nutritious. The following applies: the darker the vegetable, the higher the nutrient density. Therefore, you should eat four to six handfuls of green leafy vegetables per day, for example, in the form of

  • spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • chard
  • kale
  • Arugula or also
  • dandelion leaves.

4. Listen to your body

In general, you should always listen to your personal body feeling. Be aware of how you feel after a meal. If you’re tired, listless, or unable to concentrate after eating, have indigestion, or similar symptoms, you need to ask yourself if previously eaten foods could be to blame. Eat only the foods that make you feel good, both physically and mentally.

5. Stay tuned

Ultimately, a change in diet is only useful if it can be implemented permanently. Design your diet to fit into your day to day life. Nutrition should be fun and not a burden. It’s also important to pay attention to other areas of life: Are you getting enough exercise? Get enough sleep? A healthy lifestyle involves many aspects.

6. Avoid inflammatory foods

According to Naidoo, certain foods can promote inflammation in the body and therefore also anxiety, psychological stress, and depression. This includes highly processed foods like

  • sausage
  • Fast food
  • french fries or
  • Bakery products that contain a lot of sugar, salt or industrially hydrogenated fats.

They should only be enjoyed in moderation.

See in the video:

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.