Lonely. Afraid. Isolated. Scared. Crippled. Stuck. That’s where I found myself shortly after the birth of my first child in 1997. By 2004, imprisoned by unrelenting anxiety and depression, I ended up under the care of a psychiatrist. I thought my brain was broken. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Big Culprits In Mental Health Shifts
While it’s true that anxiety, depression, and behavioral changes can stem from physical trauma to the brain like concussions or injuries, there are many other reasons why your mood and emotions shift. Many health conditions can manifest in an altered mental state. For example, mold exposure, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, low blood flow to the brain, environmental toxicity, immune issues, and thyroid disease could be the root of the problem. And we know that emotional trauma also plays a significant role in our brain health.
The Standard American Diet Will Destroy Your Brain Health
However, as was my experience, one of the most overlooked causes of anxiety and depression is the food we put in our bodies. The average American consumes 180lbs of sugar per year. They eat up to fifteen times more bad fats than good fats and up to fifty percent more salt than they should. During the day, they lean into caffeine to keep them alert and alcohol to help them sleep. They rarely cook at home. And if they do, it often involves prepackaged items from the center aisles of the grocery store, pesticide-laden produce, and meats produced in confined animal feedlots.
Why Does This Matter?
Three Ways Your Diet Causes Depression
- Dr. Daniel Amen tells us that sugar is linked with depression, ADHD, and hyperactivity. Blood sugar fluctuations caused by either high or low blood sugar can manifest in “depression, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, phobias, unsocial or antisocial behavior, and suicidal tendencies.” (Salzer, 1966) High quantities of refined sugars can also raise dopamine levels and contribute to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Clean proteins found in meats, nuts, grains, and legumes, are the building blocks that your body uses to make neurotransmitters. Therefore, inadequate intake of them or the inability to break them down and absorb them properly can result in low levels of your feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
- Hidden food sensitivities are one of the dietary culprits behind depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. For instance, “Gluten elimination may represent an effective treatment strategy for mood disorders in individuals with gluten-related disorders.” (Bold et al., 2018)
What Can You Do To Alleviate Your Depression?
If you or someone you know is battling anxiety and depression, the following steps may be helpful:
- Balance your blood sugar. Skip high sugar snacks and drinks. Enjoy sweets in the form of fruit at the end of your meal. Eat high-protein snacks. Try eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day while you get your blood sugar under control.
- Make sure your protein comes from organic, wild-caught, or grass-fed sources. Make sure you have enough stomach acid to digest it properly.
- Take a food sensitivity test to uncover any underlying intolerances that trigger your anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideations.
These diet and lifestyle shifts have the potential to provide an unshakeable foundation upon which you can build a life of emotional stability. For even more nutrition tips to help alleviate depression, check out my blog post Five Ways To Nourish Your Second Brain.
For most people, minor lifestyle changes will make a big difference. However, there are times when the problem runs deeper, and you need professional help. If you’ve tried to figure this out on your own, or you feel like you’re lost in a maze of information and aren’t sure which path to take, don’t give up hope.
We have a range of different approaches that will help you figure out the root cause of your dysfunction and stop the cycle of sickness so you can feel better now. Book your free 30-minute Breakthrough Strategy Session today.