With the suicide of Robin Williams and the major cause seeming to be depression which he has suffered with for many years, got me thinking if there was a specific diet or exercise that could help alleviate this illness.
First we need to understand what causes depression. Researching the web one quickly finds there is no one reason why depression can set in, how long it stays and how deep does it get. But there are major factors that can play a role such as genes (look at the Hemingway’s for example), your brain chemistry, and medical or physical conditions, i.e. people with eating disorders are made fun of, etc.
Your surroundings can also play a role. Do you look at life in a positive or negative way? Do you think highly of yourself or always being critical? Were you bullied or harassed as a child or even now as an adult?
There are life events that can also trigger depression, death of a close family member especially on or close to a major date in your life. Divorce of your parents or yourself can also be a catalyst for depression, where you the main reason for this event? How could you have avoided it?
So can diet and exercise help fight depression?
While deep states of depression requires the help of a medical profession and possibly medication, I do believe that restructuring your life through clean living, a healthy diet, positive thoughts, and regular exercise can help bolster the effects of any therapy one seeks.
Negatron versus Positron…
First, your everyday outlook. I am a firm believer that you are what you surround yourself in. If you are always around negative people, I call them Negatrons, chances are you will be one yourself. A negative outlook on life only leads to bad things because in life, no matter how good it can be, there are always setbacks and problems. A negatron always magnifies those events until it consumes them.
Having a negative attitude triggers responses in your brain that impacts the hormones and quantity that your body releases. These hormones affect mood and the balance of free radicals in your body.
What one should do instead, is think positive, become a Positron! Accept the fact that setbacks and problems are part of life and take up the challenge to overcome them. Don’t procrastinate, tackle the problem. Negatrons tend to let it fester until it gets worse so they can say ‘you see, I knew this was going to happen!’ Positrons are usually pro-active to these events.
Surround yourself with other Positrons. They can help serve as a catalyst when things are not going your way. They can help you see the positive in a bad event.
Just remember, everything that happens in life has an opportunity for you to improve or to let it consume you. Choose the improvement option!
Diet and Depression
There isn’t a specific ‘anti-depression’ diet. But since the mind has a lot to do with depression, it is wise to eat foods that nourish the brain. Nutritious foods support the entire body’s repair, growth and wellness systems.
Eat foods high in anti-oxidants like broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, blueberries, strawberries, spinach. Stay away from sugar and processed sugars. Go for complex carbs such as whole grains instead of simple carbs like cakes and cookies.
Eat protein rich foods, the more Branched Chain Amino Acids, the better, this is the building blocks of life and everything that revolves around your body. Examples are beans, lean beef, fish, and poultry then depending on tolerance, milk, soy and yogurt products.
Eat Omega-3 rich foods. Recent studies have shown that a deficit in this fatty acid is associated with depression. Some examples are salmon, tuna, sardines, flax seed, walnuts and dark green leafy veggies.
Exercise and Depression
I mentioned that attitude can go a long way and being positive is a lot healthier than feeling negative all the time. People that exercise regularly usually experience a boost in mood, feeling good about themselves and have lower rates of depression.
When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with the brain to reduce the feeling of pain. But studies have shown that they also put the body in a positive feeling and has been compared to morphine in that respect. This is why the term runners high was coined.
Since exercise also reduces stress (we always hear people say they are going to go run to release stress) improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, makes you look fit and healthy, lowers blood pressure, etc., they are all related to improved wellness. The higher one is in the wellness scale, the lower the rates of depression.
So what type of exercise?
The easiest answer to that is, whichever exercise you get the most enjoyment out of and will be a lifelong endeavor. If you love the outdoors, then choose something outdoors. Maybe have several exercise regimens depending on where you live and the seasons you go through.
Select whether you want to perform an exercise that you perform solo or one that is better suit to group settings. Strong social support not only motivates one to continue the exercise, but it surrounds you with people that are more than likely Positrons.
So although there isn’t a cure all for depression, and people suffering from deep states of depression should seek medical help, there are things you can do in your diet and lifestyle that can help combat this disease and be….Fit Forlife!