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Foods That Trigger Depression

by
author image Robin Wood-Moen
Robin Wood-Moen began writing in 2000. She is an academic researcher in health psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, religion/spirituality, bereavement, death/dying, meaning-making processes and CAM therapies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in forensic-social sciences from University of North Dakota, a Master of Science in psychology and is working on her Ph.D. in health psychology, both from Walden University.
Foods That Trigger Depression
An aisle of processed food in the grocery store. Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The foods we eat can do much more than nourish the body. Certain foods have the ability to boost energy, improve mood and make us feel perky. But some foods can cancel out chemicals in the brain, causing fatigue and depression. There is a very simple formula for avoiding foods that trigger depression and can actually make you feel better. The most important action to take as a consumer with depressive symptoms is to buy organic and learn how to read nutrition labels properly. Arming yourself with knowledge will ease the impact of foods on mood and empower you to be more proactive in your health maintenance.

Foods with High Pesticide Residue

Foods that are grown with heavy pesticide use can be detrimental to mood and well-being. Most foods grown with pesticides are found in the fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store. The worst offenders are celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale, potatoes and grapes. The Environmental Working Group suggests if you continue buying these fruits and vegetables, choose organic for the most nutritional benefit and least amount of pesticides.

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Sugary Foods That Spike Blood Glucose Levels

Blood glucose levels fluctuate with the foods we eat. While sugary foods may bring comfort and short bursts of energy, the downside to eating sweets is that blood glucose levels plummet, leaving excessive fatigue and feeling worse than you did before you indulged. When there is too much sugar present in the blood, insulin floods the body in attempts to clear glucose and depletes energy levels. According to the website Food For the Brain, excessive insulin is linked to sleep disorders, dizziness, aggressive outbursts and numerous other symptoms attributable to depression.

Fat-Free Foods Loaded with Sodium

Eating fat-free foods may be better for maintaining healthy weight, but they can also be loaded with excess sodium used to preserve their freshness. Oregon State Extension suggests that excess sodium, an electrolyte necessary for major organ function, leads to fluid retention in the extremities. While some sodium is necessary to maintain health and prevent both nutritional and neurological imbalances, too much of a good thing can cause depression or add to depression related to chronic disease due to a rocky immune system response and general fatigue. Choosing to eat smaller portions of low-fat food selections can be a healthier choice than opting for the fat-free version for this purpose.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol is a known central nervous system depressant that can cause otherwise healthy individuals to fall into clinical depression. Alcohol consumption is a two-pronged problem both in instigating depressive symptoms and in efforts to self-medicate. Caldwell College describes this in relation to building tolerance and the need to increase consumption to obtain the numbing effects on depression and mood. In building tolerance, more and more of the alcohol is needed, while increasing the depressant effects in the body. Keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum is key.

Diets Containing Gluten

In some instances, depression can be attributable to gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are complicated gastrointestinal disorders known to influence mood. There is a two-pronged condition of constant malabsorption and impairments to the immune system response. The body treats gluten products similar to a foreign bacteria that the immune system rushes off to fight in order to return to the state it was in prior to exposure. Many individuals have gluten sensitivity or gastrointestinal upset with mental health issues that remain undiagnosed, especially when the link is not obvious. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse suggests consulting with your physician about being tested for this condition. A diet eliminating foods containing gluten under the supervision of a licensed nutritionist is the most effective way to treat this disorder.

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