October is depression awareness month. Depression affects all ages and genders, and different people can experience different symptoms. Some may feel sadness, worthlessness, or guilt, while others may feel tiredness, irritability and anger. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 6 adults will have depression at some time in their lives.
As a dietitian who works with those struggling with depression and anxiety, I work alongside psychotherapists and psychiatrists. In most cases, getting better is a team effort. More and more, the research shows that nutrition is an essential piece of the plan. If you haven’t tried nutrition, maybe it’s time!
- Feed your Brain – Your brain requires a large variety of nutrients to function its best. While it may seem easier to take a supplement, we now know there are many nutrients we can’t get from a powder or pill. Think of the great number of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. So many different varieties and colors. Did you know that each one has a different set of nutrients? Making sure you have the right foods, in the right ratios, can give your brain the power it needs to improve your mood!
- Feed Your Microbes – Did you know you had a whole world living inside you? We all have 100s of different types of microbes living in our guts. These little critters affect both our physical and mental health. Yes, the gut and brain actually talk to each other, and it turns out these microbes have a lot to say. What we eat is food for these microbes, so eating the foods that help the “good bacteria” thrive, can help improve the communication to your brain.
- Improve your energy – It’s not always about what you eat, but when and how often. How and when we eat can affect your blood sugar. When blood sugar drops, it’s easy to feel more tired, irritable, emotional, and have difficulty concentrating. Sound familiar? Finding easy ways to eat that will improve your energy, can help make depression feel a little easier to deal with.
- Help with Sleep – Just like eating well and exercising, sleep is essential to improving depression. Did you know that how you eat may improve your sleep? Some diet patterns and food choices can make falling asleep more difficult, while others like being hungry, drinking alcohol, or too much caffeine, can cause you to wake up at night. Getting a full night’s sleep is necessary to feeling good, and diet can help.
- Decreasing Tummy Troubles – It’s very common for those who have depression and anxiety to also have digestive issues. Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas and nausea are common. This is where diet change may play an important role. Finding the foods that help manage these symptoms without taking away all the foods you enjoy, can certainly improve both discomfort and mood!
Kim Kulp, RD
Gut Health Nutrition Expert
I am a registered dietitian that specializes in gut nutrition to improve digestive and mental health. I help my clients harness the power of nutrition to support their bodies delicate ecosystem, so they can feel better. I have seen hundreds of lives transformed through the power of nutrition. I want to help you harness the gut health connection in your life so you can get “back to good!”
I would love to hear from you: