10 dietary strategies in combating depression

Tempo de Leitura: 4 minutos

The World Health Organization has declared that more than 300 million people suffer from severe depressive disorders, accounting for approximately 800,000 suicides a year. In addition, it can impact the management of chronic diseases and be a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. Learn now 10 dietary strategies in combating depression.

It is already known that some foods and eating habits affect mental health. Similarly, studies have shown that psychological, physiological, genetic and social functions also interfere with eating behaviors and preferences.

However, there are subtypes in depressive disorders and each may affect body weight and appetite differently. One example is the atypical depressive disorder that causes an increase in appetite, body weight and body mass index values, leading to an increase in chronic diseases, unlike melancholic depression that causes a decrease in appetite and body weight loss.

Food pattern and the impact on depression

Study showed that the incidence of depressive symptoms decreased as the rate of mediterranean diet adhering increased. In another study, it was determined that the risk of depression was higher in the group with high consumption of refined sugar and sweets, and low consumption of vegetables, vegetables and fruits.

The quality of the mother’s diet affects the child’s mental health In addition, it has been reported that the consumption of meals together with the family reduces the risk of suicide and depression in the

What to prioritize in food?

  • Omega-3: acts on the functioning of the brain because it acts on neural anti-inflammatory processes, neurogenesis and neurotransmission of serotonin and dopamine, for example. Daily consumption of 1g of omega-3 with an EPA content of 60% or more has positive effects on depression.
  • Vitamin D: In the brain, the vitamin D receptor regulates serotonin synthesis. Elevated levels of reactive oxygen and calcium species in neuronal cells in people with vitamin D deficiency explain their relationship to depression.
  • Vitamin B12: Its deficiency plays a role in the formation of depression with its effects on the adrenergic system, glutamatergic, serotonin and dopamine production. People with B12 deficiency suffer from oxidative stress and changes in mitochondrial support, calcium buffer and energy supply. These changes cause depression by producing atrophy, death of neurons, and decreased neurotransmitter signaling. Attention to
  • Vitamin B6: that can affect neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. The active form of vitamin B6 plays an important role in plasma homocysteine concentration, decarboxylation reactions and transamination. It is important to note that women who use oral contraceptives have lower levels of vitamin B6.
  • Folic acid: Irritability, anemia, and behavioral disorders are observed in folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is known to contribute to the recovery of depression by increasing the effectiveness of antidepressant medications and by being involved in the synthesis of serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine.
  • Magnesium: plays a role in nerve conduction and neuromuscular transmission. It has antidepressant properties and increases the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Studies have shown that intake of 320 mg/day is effective in reducing the risk of depression.
  • Selenium: important role in antioxidant mechanisms in the brain and nervous system, in addition to acting on thyroid metabolism. Thyroid diseases, on the other hand, are known to be associated with mental disorders. In one study, it was found that high doses of selenium reduced the risk of depression by 54% due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Zinc: the brain has the highest level of zinc compared to other organs. Its deficiency can cause depression, causing changes in glutamatergic, dopaminergic, serotoninergic transmissions in the central nervous system, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. Studies have shown that intake of 30 mg/day is effective in reducing the risk of depression in the elderly.
  • Copper: It plays an important role in the development of depression due to its effect on the conversion of dopamine into norepinephrine. In addition, it is involved in cognitive processes, learning and memory, sinaptogenesis, growth of neurons, glycine receptors, metabolism of catecholamines, regulation of the immune system and regulation of antioxidant processes, etc.

  • Probiotics
    : there is a bidirectional interaction between depression and the intestinal microbiota. If the balance of the microbiota is disturbed, the permeability of the blood brain barrier and intestinal barrier increases by activating pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Thus, probiotics produce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds capable of inducing the immune system’s response and reducing oxidative stress. In addition, they are involved in the production of fatty acids and amino acids, necessary for the synthesis of neurochemicals, which are inhibitory factors in the formation of depression. One example is GABA synthesized by probiotic bacteria that plays a role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, histamine, glutamate, dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine.

Clinical practice

Nutritional status, diet quality, adequate intake of vitamins and minerals are closely related to people’s mental health. Studies have shown that excessive consumption of fast food, snacks, low-quality foods and high-energy foods can increase the incidence of depression. In addition, individuals with severe depression have an unhealthy diet and a decrease in consumption of vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, milk and cereals. In contrast, the Mediterranean diet is the most recommended for disease control and prevention. The supply of supplements or foods rich in Omega 3, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, selenium, zinc, copper and probiotics are critical for the prevention and treatment of depression.


Suggested study:Depression: how to identify symptoms and signs in the intestinal microbiota? – Science Play

Watch the video on Science Play with Victor Sorrentino:
The Stress-Anxiety-Depression Link

Article: Ekinci GN, Sanlier N. The relationship between nutrition and depression in the life process: A mini-review. Gerontol Exp

. 2023;172:112072. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2022.112072

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