We all recognise that there is a link between what we eat and how we feel – which is where the phrase ‘comfort eating’ comes from.
But can changing your diet help to combat the symptoms of depression?
It has long been known in medical circles that our brain relies on nutrients to work properly, with Omega-3, amino acids, B vitamins, Vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and iron all helping to boost good mental health.
So much so that a recent study has found that the Mediterranean diet could be beneficial when it comes to lowering the risk of depression.
Scientists examined the effects of the diet – which is typically made up of pulses, olive oil, cereals, chickpeas, nuts, fish, leafy vegetables, and plenty of water – on over 15,000 people for more than 10 years.
It was found that those who adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a higher quality of life in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.
Author Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, explained to the Mail Online: “We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds.
“These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health.
“The protective role is ascribed to the foods' nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables, all sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, could reduce the risk of depression.”
Using the results of this study as a guideline, nutritionist Melissa Brunetti has now been able to create the ideal breakfast recipe for people who are suffering with depression.
Speaking to Quartz, she explained that they should start each day with eggs, sprouted-grain toast and smashed avocado.
“Our brain is about 60% fat and we need to get our fat from a dietary source. Avocado is rich in tryptophan, which is a pre-cursor to serotonin, which is our feel-good chemical. It also has folate and Omega 3 in it,” she explained.
The fatty acids, Omega-3, and Vitamin D contained within the eggs should also help to boost mental wellbeing.
Of course, it goes without saying that our diet alone cannot cure depression.
However it can, alongside support and treatment, help to create the right conditions for good mental health.
This is why the UK's National Health Service encourages people to self-help through eating a balanced diet, offering advice on how best to do so over at their official NHS Choices website.
If you are suffering from depression, please visit Mind for help and support.
If you’d prefer to speak to someone in person, you can call them on 0300 123 3393. Their lines are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).
Alternatively, you can email them at email@example.com, or text using the number 86463.