Natural Tools to Fight Depression
Every year 1 in 5 Canadians experiences mental health challenges. This is often said to be due to genetics, personality, environmental and biological reasons, many of which seem out of one’s control. But there are many additional factors contributing to depression, including diet, low thyroid function, high stress, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, infections and gut health.
You Are Not Your Genes
Even more powerful than genetics, which we have no control over, is something called Epigenetics. (“Epi” meaning above or over.) Epigenetic factors have the ability to affect how our cells read our genes and significantly impact our genetic expression! Everything we eat, drink, breathe, the thoughts we think, toxins we’re exposed to and how we move are continually flipping genetic switches on and off throughout our lives.
We need to start seeing exercise like the powerful anti-depressant drug it is. Exercise has actually been PROVEN to fight depression, and for some, it can even be more powerful than anti-depressants! Make the decision now to engage in at least 15-30 minutes of exercise daily this week and write down how it makes you feel.
Eat to Fight Depression
Diet is a great way to improve depression and anxiety. Many people with depression are deficient in key nutrients such as B6, folate and B12, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc and essential fats. Start by increase your intake of leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole-food proteins and brain-boosting fats such as coconut oil, avocados, walnuts and fatty fish. Additionally, avoid processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates and refined oils, all which contribute to depression and imbalanced moods. Switch to whole-food carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and do your best to eat foods without an ingredient list. Avoiding foods you’re sensitive to can help a lot also!
Supplement Vitamin D3
Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common, and it’s a crucial nutrient for supporting mood and overcoming depression. For more info, read 4 Reasons Supplementing Vitamin D is Essential.
Increase Omega-3 Intake
In clinical trials, patients diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses exhibited lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids compared to those without. The best way to get more omega-3s in your diet is to consume wild-caught salmon, sardines, grass-fed beef and organic free-range eggs or supplement with a high-quality fish oil that’s been tested for contaminants like PCBs and mercury, which are toxic to the brain.
Probiotics Improve Depression
Probiotics may improve depression and anxiety due to their ability to impact the gut-brain axis. Probiotics are the good bacteria we need in order to produce neurotransmitters for brain function, helping to regulate your mood while reducing inflammation associated with depression. They can also help improve IBS, brain fog and increase energy. Eat more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and coconut kefir and consider supplementation for optimal benefits.
Other Tools for Improving Mental Health:
Cultivate healthy relationships and create connections. Developing community is extremely important for overall mental well-being.
Set boundaries around technology. Increased screen time negatively affects our circadian rhythms, and artificial light is a toxin that strongly impacts mental health.
Improve your sleep.
Support your thyroid and gut function.
If you’ve already incorporated a lot of these tools but aren’t seeing improvements, consider getting your nutrient levels checked and working with a Holistic Nutritionist to improve your absorption of nutrients to ensure optimum levels.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist