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Five Foods to Beat Depression

There has been multiple studies that have found a connection between the gut and the brain (1,2,3) and more that show that there is a connection between mental health and the foods that one eats (4). One reason for this is the role that inflammation plays in the body and inflammation has been linked to many different diseases and issues in the body (5). One of these issues is depression and has been shown to associated with an increase in inflammation in the body (6) and gut microbiota (7). With that in mind being mindful of the foods that we put into our body is beneficial in combating depression and feeling better overall. Here are 5 foods that have been shown to combat depression.

Walnuts- Walnuts have been shown to be connected to lower rates of depression in adults (8). This is believed to be because they process a high amount of Omega-3, vitamin E, and anti-oxidants. I like to eat them right out of the bag!

Blueberries- Blueberries have been studied and shown to be correlated to lower rates of depression. This is believed to be from the polyphenols and the flavonoids that they have in them, both have been studied in depression as well (9,10).

Leafy Greens- Leafy greens are a powerhouse! Most people know they are good for you as most would say having some sort of a salad is a healthier option. I could go on and on about the many benefits and ways to incorporate them into your diet as well as the many different kinds. However, this is just about the effects on depression (11). As already mentioned there is a strong link between the gut and the brain and studies have shown that those that eat higher amounts of fiber are less likely to have symptoms of depression (12, 13). Some great ones to add to your diet areL spinach, romaine lettuce, and kale!

Salmon- one of my favorite fish and one I try to eat every week or two. It is high in healthy omega-3 fats and is a healthy protean. Salmon and fatty fish has been shown to lower rates of depression (14,15) as well as helping individuals get more sleep (click here to read my three part article about sleep) (1,2,3). Taking a fish oil or Omega-3 supplement can be helpful as well (16) however should not be relied on as a replacement for a healthy diet or replacement for eating fish or high Omega-3s if that is your goal.

Probiotic rich foods- Out gut is home to billions of bacteria that helps out body breakdown food. Part of having a healthy gut is supporting this with foods that are high in probiotics (17). These foods include: kimchi, yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, miso soup, and kombucha. I also believe that a probiotic supplement is the most important supplement that one can take on order to be sure your gut has enough probiotics.

Remember eating a well balanced diet is essential to living a healthy and meaningful life!


1.Gulas E, Wysiadecki G, Strzelecki D, Gawlik-Kotelnicka O, Polguj M. Can microbiology affect psychiatry? A link between gut microbiota and psychiatric disorders. Psychiatr Pol. 2018 Dec 29;52(6):1023-1039. English, Polish. doi: 10.12740/PP/OnlineFirst/81103. Epub 2018 Dec 29.

2. Simkin DR. Microbiome and Mental Health, Specifically as It Relates to Adolescents. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019 Sep 2;21(9):93. doi: 10.1007/s11920-019-1075-3.

3. Liu X, Cao S, Zhang X. Modulation of Gut Microbiota-Brain Axis by Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Diet. J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Sep 16;63(36):7885-95. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02404.

4. Bremner JD, Moazzami K, Wittbrodt MT, Nye JA, Lima BB, Gillespie CF, Rapaport MH, Pearce BD, Shah AJ, Vaccarino V. Diet, Stress and Mental Health. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 13;12(8):2428. doi: 10.3390/nu12082428.

5. Furman D, Campisi J, Verdin E, Carrera-Bastos P, Targ S, Franceschi C, Ferrucci L, Gilroy DW, Fasano A, Miller GW, Miller AH, Mantovani A, Weyand CM, Barzilai N, Goronzy JJ, Rando TA, Effros RB, Lucia A, Kleinstreuer N, Slavich GM. Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nat Med. 2019 Dec;25(12):1822-1832. doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0675-0. Epub 2019 Dec 5.

6. Peirce JM, Alviña K. The role of inflammation and the gut microbiome in depression and anxiety. J Neurosci Res. 2019 Oct;97(10):1223-1241. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24476. Epub 2019 May 29.

7.Evrensel, A., & Ceylan, M. E. (2015). The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression. Clinical psychopharmacology and neuroscience : the official scientific journal of the Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 13(3), 239–244.

8. Arab L, Guo R, Elashoff D. Lower Depression Scores among Walnut Consumers in NHANES. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 26;11(2):275. doi: 10.3390/nu11020275. PMID: 30691167;

9.Khalid S, Barfoot KL, May G, Lamport DJ, Reynolds SA, Williams CM. Effects of Acute Blueberry Flavonoids on Mood in Children and Young Adults. Nutrients. 2017 Feb 20;9(2):158. doi: 10.3390/nu9020158. PMID: 28230732

10. Travica N, D'Cunha NM, Naumovski N, Kent K, Mellor DD, Firth J, Georgousopoulou EN, Dean OM, Loughman A, Jacka F, Marx W. The effect of blueberry interventions on cognitive performance and mood: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Mar;85:96-105. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2019.04.001.

11. Son H, Jung S, Shin JH, Kang MJ, Kim HJ. Anti-Stress and Anti-Depressive Effects of Spinach Extracts on a Chronic Stress-Induced Depression Mouse Model through Lowering Blood Corticosterone and Increasing Brain Glutamate and Glutamine Levels. J Clin Med. 2018 Oct 31;7(11):406. doi: 10.3390/jcm7110406. PMID: 30384468

12. Swann OG, Kilpatrick M, Breslin M, Oddy WH. Dietary fiber and its associations with depression and inflammation. Nutr Rev. 2020 May 1;78(5):394-411. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuz072.

13. Xu H, Li S, Song X, Li Z, Zhang D. Exploration of the association between dietary fiber intake and depressive symptoms in adults. Nutrition. 2018 Oct;54:48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2018.03.009. Epub 2018 Mar 21.

14. Li F, Liu X, Zhang D Fish consumption and risk of depression: a meta-analysis J Epidemiol Community Health 2016;70:299-304.

15. Rathod, R., Kale, A. & Joshi, S. Novel insights into the effect of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function. J Biomed Sci 23, 17 (2016).

16. Wang G, Zhang X, Lu X, Liu J, Zhang Z, Wei Z, Wu Z, Wang J. Fish oil supplementation attenuates cognitive impairment by inhibiting neuroinflammation in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Aging (Albany NY). 2020 Aug 4;12(15):15281-15289. doi: 10.18632/aging.103426. Epub 2020 Aug 4.

17. Kim N, Yun M, Oh YJ, Choi HJ. Mind-altering with the gut: Modulation of the gut-brain axis with probiotics. J Microbiol. 2018 Mar;56(3):172-182. doi: 10.1007/s12275-018-8032-4. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Disclaimer: I only recommend products I would use myself. All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

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