Using Diet to Improve Your Mood

Written by Dr. Georgia Tetlow, Integrative Physician and Fatima Flynn MS Do you or a loved one struggle with persistent mood change, sadness, anxiety, decreased energy, or guilt? How about aches and pains, headaches or digestive problems without a clear physical cause? These are all telling signs and symptoms that you may be experiencing depression. Major depression or clinical depression is a serious mood disorder that affects a growing number of Americans. Is there a way to prevent and treat depression with a non-invasive, integrative approach?

Genetics and Depression To understand the ways in which we can work to prevent and treat depression holistically, we must first understand what causes this complicated mood disorder. While genetics are the key link to depression; environmental, psychological and biological factors may change and manipulate our genetic structure making us prone to depression. Environmental factors such as cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol, psychological factors such as stress, and biological factors such as the foods we eat- all contribute to the likelihood of developing the disorder. These factors manipulate our epigenetic profile which can either activate or deactivate genes that help or harm your health.

Preventing and Treating Depression with Diet  Integrative medicine looks to prevent and treat health conditions in a non-invasive manor, so when it comes to depression, we focus on changing a person’s diet and optimizing nutrition. When looking for foods to enhance your mood, we must look for foods that will contribute to gut health. Research has shown that neurochemicals made by beneficial gut bacteria contribute to neurologic function. Ensuring that gut health is optimized is of key importance because a majority of our hormones are formulated by the gut. We make 80% of our neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepherine and dopamine in our gut!  It is important to boost your gut health with probiotics and probiotic rich foods, especially foods plentiful in Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria species.  In addition to hormone production, the gut is responsible for proper nutrient absorption. To balance and prevent depression, try eating foods that contain: B12, Vitamin D, Selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating more good fat is especially relevant- examples would be wild caught fatty fish, avocado, olive oil and nuts- they have been shown to boost mood and help depressive symptoms. As with any health changes, it is important to discuss prevention and treatment options with you provider. An integrative practitioner can work with you to treat your depression holistically and can aim to minimize the amount of medications needed for treatment by addressing epigenetic factors. Specialized testing can pinpoint certain nutrient deficiencies and bacterial health within the gut to understand your depression in a more holistic manor.

Discuss prevention and treatment options with your Integrative Physician, Dr. Georgia Tetlow or Nurse Practitioner, Lauren Houser at your next PIM appointment! To schedule an appointment, please call us a (888) 702-7974 x 2 or fill out the scheduling form