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I  heard a rather distressing report on Radio 4 this morning about the prevalence of depression in children and how the rate is increasing.

Feel Fab Nutrition - Good nutrition can help alleviate depression
Good nutrition can help alleviate depression

Much of the report was based around how the mental health services are not doing enough to help (funding is one of the issues; knowledge is another).

What wasn’t mentioned at any point was diet. Of course there are many root causes of depression, but a poor diet is one of the factors. A brain needs proper structure and to be able to make and react to the right chemicals.

Things that can contribute to or exacerbate low moods include:

  • Sugar
  • Grains
  • Vegetable oils
  • Lack of certain nutrients

A typical diet nowadays will include a lot of grains, especially wheat, and a lot of sugar. Grains, even whole grains:

Quickly digest into sugar, adding to the load the body has to bear

Block absorption of several nutrients

Place toxins in the form of glutens into the body

Vegetable oils are the oils of choice when it comes to cooking – but should not be! These oils (such as sunflower):

Are highly processed, stripping out much of the original goodness

Easily go rancid, which is harmful to our bodies

Easily form toxic transfats when heated

Give us too much omega 6 in relation to omega 3

A typical diet is also often lacking (through not eating or because they are being blocked from absorption):

Saturated fats (these are vital for good health, despite what the health authorities tell us: the science is incontravertible)

Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly the long-chained ones we get in most quantity from oily fish and seafood

A range of micronutrients, especially vitamins B6, B12 and D, chromium and tryptophan (an amino acid)

There’s more of course! However, what I would recommend, in conjunction with other care where necessary, is a diet rich in:

  • Saturated fats
  • Fish oils (from fish meals or good quality supplements)
  • Good proteins, cooked from fresh
  • Vegetables, the more deeply coloured, the better
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (if tolerant)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Go organic and free range if you can, but don’t be overly worried if you can’t. Always get as fresh food as you can.

In addition, we should be looking at adding probiotics, at least for now (gut bacteria can affect mood too), prebiotoics (on an ongoing basis, to feed the gut bacteria) and, for now, good vitamin-mineral-phyotonutrient supplements

And a diet that is free from:

  • Grains, most especially wheat
  • Added sugars
  • Added sweeteners
  • Fruit juice (yes, this is toxic to the body)
  • Processed/ready meals

In addition, start using soap and stop using antibacterial handwashes, as the latter wipe out your good gut bacteria too!

That’s it in brief. Do call me if you would like to know more.

Of course, switching diets and feeling better won’t happen overnight, but it’s easier and quicker than you may think 🙂

 

Could diet help children with depression?
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