Depression is also strongly linked to an increased risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as substance abuse and suicide.
According to WHO, a majority of people with depression suffer in silence or do not get adequate care. In high-income countries such as the U.S., an estimated 50 percent of depressed individuals do not get treatment. In low-income countries, that ratio is closer to 80 or 90 percent.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, 11 percent of Americans (and only slightly less in other western so-called industrialised nations) over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs. Among women in their 40 and 50s, 1 in 4 is on antidepressants. Several of the most widely prescribed anti-depressant drugs have been linked to severe health and mental side effects. (see this interesting blog on overprescription of anti-depressants: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/a-glut-of-antidepressants/)
Mental health is closely linked to gut health. In fact, despite more evidence linking a strategy of improving gut health and increasing vitamin D in-take to improved mental and emotional stability, this strategy is often ignored.
Exercise is another critical component to improved mental health and in conjunction with vitamin D and improved gut health are likely to be the most positive and common sense remedy.
Here are some common sense steps to ensure positive mood stability and optimised mental health:
Vitamin D / Sun exposure
Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression, and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores, ideally by getting regular, sensible sun exposure.
In one such study, people with a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with a level greater than 30 ng/mL.
The animal-based omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is perhaps the single most important nutrient for optimal brain function, thereby preventing depression. While you can obtain DHA from krill or fish oil or fresh, wild-caught fish.
Low DHA levels have been linked to depression, memory loss, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. Omega 3 fat is also available via bone broths high in marrow such as Best of the Bone broth concentrate.
Folate (vitamin B9) and other B vitamins
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower odds of depression and anxiety,an effect ascribed to antioxidants that help combat inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation is thought to be one of the primary causes of depression. Again, think of overall gut health and in addition to fresh vegetables and fruits include fermented vegetables, bone broth and a diet low in sugar.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
This medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.
|Bone Broths - a foundation for solid gut health and shown to be highly anti-inflammatory while providing critical nutrition and amino acids for mental health.
Prebiotics and probiotics
Your mental health is closely linked to your gut health. A number of studies have confirmed chronic inflammation, and especially gastrointestinal inflammation, can play a critical role in the development of depression.In fact, researchers have suggested "depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome."
Your gut is considered to be your second brain, created from the identical tissue as your brain during gestation. It's important to understand that your gut bacteria are an active and integrated part of serotonin regulation and actually produce more serotonin than your brain.
Optimizing your gut flora is a key part of the equation to optimize your serotonin levels. Gut bacteria also play a role in GABA regulation, and lower the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression related behavior.
To nourish your gut microbiome, be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and traditionally fermented foods. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir and natto. If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is recommended.
Always limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains, to rebalance your gut flora. A healthy suggestion is to limit your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.
Evaluate your salt intake
Sodium deficiency creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do not use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You'll want to use an all-natural, unprocessed salt like Celtic or Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients. Bone broths are often used by distance athletes as a energy boost in part because of their natural sodium content.
Make sure your cholesterol levels aren't too low for optimal mental health
Low cholesterol is linked to dramatically increased rates of suicide, as well as aggression toward others.This increased expression of violence toward self and others may be due to the fact that low membrane cholesterol decreases the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which are approximately 30 percent cholesterol by weight.
Sleep - It almost goes without saying but studies have shown lack of quality sleep can increase inflammation and is closely linked to mood, mental acuity and long-term effects linked to depression.
Exercise. Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. There's also a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. It also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress.
Recent animal research also suggests exercise can benefit your mental health by allowing your body to eliminate kynurenine, a harmful protein associated with depression.
source: 1: World Health Organisation
source: 2 - Fortune
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