We know that good nutritition and bad nutrition can be a benefit or detriment to physical health. Visible ailments can be treated with increased consumption of specific vitamins and minerals. Colds can be improved through hydration and vitamins. Humans learned early on that ailments like scurvy can be solved with Vitamin C. Historically the invisible ailments, mental illnesses, have been seen as biochemical and emotional issues best treated through medications and therapy. However there has been increased study and consensus on the importance of nutrition on the health and functionality of the brain. Nutritional neuroscience, as it is becoming known, is a growing area of study that is showing how pivotal nutrition is to the body as a whole, mind and body.
Below are some nutrients that have come up repeatedly in articles discussing the link between nutrition and depression. These are nutrients that many have agreed play a very important role in healthy brain function. Overall in these studies researchers agree that preventing nutritional deficiencies through having a well balanced diet can be helpful in dealing with and preventing depression. Some studies have noted that there seems to be a correlation between the onset of the poor high fat high sugar western diet and an increase in rates of depression.
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that are important in brain function. "Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation."*
(Salmon Fish Oil)
(Menhaden Fish Oil)
Low levels of Magnesium are often seen in individuals with elevated stress and/or depression. Antidepressants are shown to increase levels of Magnesium. Some studies have shown that ingesting Magnesium performs similarly to antidepressants. Magnesium is also linked with neurotransmitters and can improve serotonin levels.*.
Zinc is crucial to brain development and brain function. Low levels of zinc can mean lower brain function*.
B Vitamins are often pointed to in studies as helping to prevent or reduce symptoms of many brain releated ailments by aiding cognitive function*.
Amino Acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters, which are basically chemicals that fire connections in the brain. Having healthy a proper amount of neurotransmitters helps the brain function properly. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter many recognize as an important chemical that aids in sleep. This neurotransmitter as well as others also help with mood stability*.
The following foods are a representation of a high fat, high sugar, low quality diet. In moderation, these foods are not bad, but a diet that is made up predominately of these quality foods is also low in fundamental nutrients that help the body and brain function at its best.