Which Foods Help With Depression?
According to a study titled “The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression“:
“A poor diet is a risk factor for depression… Thus, a healthy diet may prevent depression. Regulation of the gut microbiota using diet, probiotics and FMT may have important benefits for preventing and treating depression… The gut-brain axis could aid in understanding and treating neuropsychiatric disorders, especially depression.”
A healthy diet is one that promotes the growth and regulation of beneficial bacteria at levels that are good for your microbiome.
Eating processed foods with no nutritional value can contribute to a poor diet, and potentially to symptoms of depression.
Feelings of depression may be caused by low serotonin levels. Strategies for increasing serotonin may include eating Brazil nuts, which are high in selenium, or eating foods that are rich in tryptophan, such as cage free eggs, wild salmon and even cheese.
Feelings of depression may also be caused by periods of helplessness spurred by spikes in cortisol, aka “the stress hormone”.
Cortisol may stress you out, which can cause you to withdraw. This can cause you to not do your work, which can increase cortisol… You feel more stressed and reach for processed “comfort foods” like cookies, salty and sugary snacks and this makes you feel worse.
A vicious downward spiral.
While these all may play some role in feelings of depression, there is increasing research being done on the link between a healthy gut and our mental well-being…
If we suffer from poor diet, our gut health may be improved by eating foods with probiotics that have been shown to help with depression.
Which Foods Contain Lactobacillus Plantarum?
The following are probiotics that have been shown to help with depression. These probiotics can be found naturally in certain foods or can be consumed in supplement form.
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Bifidobacterium lactis (B. animalis)
- Bifidobacterium longum
Which Foods Contain These Helpful Bacteria?
Lactobacillus plantarum: Is found in sauerkraut, meat, milk products, kimchi, sourdough, fermented plants and vegetables, brined olives and fermented sausages.
Lactobacillus acidophilus: Is found in kefir, Chobani, Stonyfield Farms yogurt, Fage, La Yogurt,
Lactobacillus brevis: Is found in sauerkraut, pickles, kefir grains, some yogurts and sourdough bread.
Bifidobacterium lactis (B. animalis): Is found in Dannon yogurt and fermented milk products.
Bifidobacterium longum: Cultured vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, some yogurts, kombucha, tempeh and miso.
These are all available in dietary supplement form… Supplements may be more effective if the foods are highly processed or produced in a way that harms or kills the good bacteria. Or if the bacteria are not able to survive the journey through our digestive tracts.
Only yogurts that list “active live cultures” may be beneficial to your gut.
These good bacteria can stimulate your digestive system, fight off disease-causing bacteria and help you avoid feelings of depression that can arise from an unhealthy gut.