Mom is right: eating fruits and vegetables will make you happy and research is proving it. Designed to lower blood pressure, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet not only influences weight loss, but now may also lower the chances of developing of depression.
So what is the DASH diet and how effective is it against depression?
1. What is the DASH diet?
The DASH diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, and low fat or nonfat dairy. The program may also lower the risk for certain cancers, stroke, heart disease and more.
Next: How does DASH control this bodily function?
2. Blood pressure management with food
DASH is very low in sodium offering two intake options: 2,300 milligrams of sodium for the standard plan and 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day for the lower sodium option.
Studies found participants lowered blood pressure after only a few weeks of following the DASH plan, according to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Next: The connection between high blood pressure and depression.
3. High blood pressure and depression are linked
Depression may be influenced by what you eat, CBS News reports. “Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke,” Laurel Cherian, MD, of Rush University Medical Center said in a statement. “Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression.”
Next: Can food influence depression?
4. Connection between food and depression
Approximately 95% of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that manages mood is rooted in the gastrointestinal tract, Harvard Health reports. Consuming healthy foods and reducing or removing sugar and processed foods can improve mood, possibly cutting the depression risk.
Study participants who followed the DASH diet were 11% less likely to be depressed over time than those who followed a traditional Western diet, USA Today reports.
Next: What other diets can help with depression?
5. Other diets that may help with depression
The Mediterranean diet is another plan that can ease depression symptoms, Today reports. Australian researchers found those who consumed Mediterranean type foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and olive oil, were less likely to be depressed, especially if they kept a food diary and had social support.
Next: What else can you do?
6. Natural approaches to reduce depression
Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e or St. John’s Wort may relieve depression, according to Prevention. You may also consider exercise, mediation and therapy.
Next: If you still feel sad…
7. When you should contact your physician
While diet and exercise can help with depression, contact a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist if you experience prolonged sadness or feel empty, helpless or have thoughts of death or suicide.
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