Food Therapy for DepressionBy Christine Pedersen
Life is a series of choices, from when we are babies and all the way through to old age. We have available to us
hundreds of choices for our health and life. When our bodies are in balance physically, mentally and spiritually, choices
come easily and positively. When we get out of balance, it becomes hard to make the right choice. Small continual good
choices will lead us back to health and balance.
Although food would seem to be something our body requires on a physical level to build new cells, to give us energy,
to ease hunger, our foods are most important to feed our brain and our heart so we can maintain life. The choices we
make of which foods we put in our bodies sets the basis for physical, mental and spiritual health.
Every single moment of every single day from the moment of our birth, our bodies strive for life – long, energetic, healthy,
happy life. We are beautifully designed to live and to live fully! (Thank you God!) We are for sure the most sophisticated
“vehicle” on this planet. Every single moment we are building bone cells, muscle cells, liver cells, pancreas cells, brain
cells, skin cells and so on. In a one year time frame we rebuild and replace every single cell in our bodies. The catch
here is, what quality of raw materials are we putting in while we are building all these cells?
Imagine this, for breakfast you had – nothing! – at school a friend shared some candy with you, and then for lunch
you had – a microwaved fast food and a pop – and then after school for a snack you had – a bag of potato chips
and a pop, and even worse a diet pop – and then for dinner you had a packaged mac and cheese, wieners, ketchup
and a glass of chocolate milk.
This same day when you woke up, your body was all charged up to make brand new heart cells, and the raw
materials you gave your body to do this were – nothing! – so without you even knowing it, your body had to go
ahead anyway and make these cells with what it had to work with so they were made smaller, weaker and damaged.
Then as the day goes on, your body had to make bone cells, and again these were made with what you fed yourself.
So the quality of your cells is directly related to the quality of your food. When this goes on and on for days, and months,
and years you can understand how we can slowly, very slowly, lose ground in our life.
Now lets imagine this, for breakfast you have – a large glass of pure water while you are preparing a blender protein drink,
Vanilla with frozen strawberries (takes 5 minutes). You drink this while you are getting dressed and organized for your
day. For a quick mid morning snack you have a small container in your back pack or locker of mixed dried nuts and fruit
(your favorites). For lunch you have a multi whole grain sandwich or tortilla filled with your favorite cheese, lettuce, sprouts,
green pepper, cucumber or even a container of chopped carrots, celery, cauliflower, snow peas which you eat along
with a handful of raw almonds and pumpkin seeds and mid afternoon have a protein bar and an apple or a fruit bar.
For dinner you have a mixture of 6 steamed veggies along with a small salmon steak and a tossed salad. And, of course,
throughout the whole day you have been drinking pure water from a go bottle that you keep with you. Probably does
not seem like enough food to get you through the day but it is 1000 times more actual useful food than the other day listed.
When we eat food that is not recognizable by the human body, our bodies have to do their work anyway so have to use
up our reserves. From the moment of birth we have reserves set aside in a “bank” which our body is meant to use when
we are in a crisis such as when we get a cold or have the flu, in an accident when extra healing is needed, when we diet
or refuse to eat, or when we choose poor quality foods. When we eat poorly continuously, we overdraw our “bank”
dangerously. These reserves are also meant for when we need to do major bone building, teeth building, brain
building, etc. When we do not have enough minerals for building our bones or teeth, our body sends us a powerful
message which we call “pain.” When our legs burn, or our back aches, or our teeth are highly sensitive and hurt us,
these are all messages from our body that it does not have enough raw materials to work with. We are so incredibly
designed that we are given “pain” as a message to alert us that something is out of balance and needs to be corrected.
There are several essential raw materials and building blocks for life:
1. Water – pure and clean (not chlorinated)
2. Minerals and vitamins from whole foods
3. Essential fatty acids from Omega 3 and 6 oils
4. Enzymes from living plants
5. Friendly bacteria (probiotics)
6. Plant based proteins
These building blocks are needed every single day of our lives. When any, or worse yet, all of these are missing,
we get off balance and our brain will give us a strong message by slowing the entire body down and we will experience
tiredness – the very first sign of imbalance or in other words, disease.
Often when we experience tiredness, we put something into our bodies to give us energy – this is the correct thing to do –
but we often make the wrong choice here. A good choice would be several of the above listed essential foods; however,
we often choose caffeine from pop, coffee, chocolate or sugar. Although it perks us up quickly and temporarily, it definitely
will not be used by the body for rebuilding or health. In fact, it only makes us think we have more energy, when in reality it is
doing major harm to our cells and our brain. This is when depression creeps in, another sign from our bodies that we need
better choices and nutrition.
When most of the foods that are going into our mouths are “acidic” in nature, they have to be continually neutralized
with minerals from our bones and muscles. All packaged, processed, fast, microwaved, deep fried foods are acidic.
All animal products including meats, fish, dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) are acidic. Only fruits and vegetables are alkaline
and only alkaline foods neutralize acidity. External sources of acidity are smoking, drugs, medications, heavy exercise,
environmental toxins from shampoos, skin care products, etc. and stress which is the biggest cause of acidity and “dis-ease”
in our bodies. A balance of 70% alkaline and 30% acidic in our bodies and in our meals is ideal.
When we become deficient in minerals because of too much acidity developing in our bodies, we become agitated,
nervous, “stressed out,” tired, can't deal with life, or in other words, depressed. Minerals, along with enzymes, are the
essence of life in our bodies and in every single cell of our bodies. Minerals and enzymes come from plants and that is
how we are meant to get them.
What happens is a very vicious cycle: Our bodies strive for life and health, we choose not to feed true whole foods
to ourselves, our bodies weaken and do the best they can, we continue to choose poor nutrition, our bodies weaken
further. Eventually, our bodies get the message we do not value ourselves enough so they decide we must not want to live.
This is when depression really gets hold of us.
There are two main types of depression: 1) External which is caused by life circumstances such as a relationship
break up, an injury, a loved pet dies, a good friend moves away, a divorce in the family. This type of depression,
although devastating at the time, generally passes, we mourn and we heal and we become stronger people.
2) Internal which is caused by what we choose to put in our mouths AND by chemical imbalances in the body
which could be caused from injuries OR from what we choose to put in our mouths.
External depression can become internal if our bodies do not have the resources available to help us recover
and bounce back to life. Life is challenging and we all are faced with huge challenges from family, friends, school,
work, and so on and how we deal with these challenges and recover from them is dependent entirely on how healthy
we are internally.
So, what is the answer to avoid or reverse depression?
It is critical to get the basics of nutrition into our bodies. Often we can do this through “baby steps” of making
small better choices each day.
One of the most important things to do is to drink water – not chlorinated tap water which will cause further damage in the body
– pure clean water, preferably filtered or distilled. We need at least half our body weight in ounces in pure water each day.
If you weight 100 pounds you should drink 50 ounces of water per day. Then we need more for every acidic food or body
stress situation (exercise) we add. I cannot ever stress enough how important good water is for us.
Next, we have to have very essential, Omega 3 and 6 good fats. These can be obtained from many sources –
the simplest is to take a supplement from a health food store either in the form of a capsule or in the actual oil,
adding it to your morning shake, drizzling it over steamed veggies, a salad or rice/pasta, or taking it by the spoon.
Remember grandma taking her cod liver oil, well this is sort of the same thing but far far better tasting. And, a real
bonus here, good oils and fats feed our skin and make our skin beautiful and healthy. You can also obtain these
good fats from avocados, ground flax seeds, raw nuts and seeds, almond or peanut butter, soy nuts, dark green
veggies, deep water fish, extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil, and other pure properly processed oils.
Let me just say something here about fats and oils. In today's society we have become “fat free” in our search
for losing weight. Interestingly enough, the quickest way to gain weight is to eat these “fat free” foods as they
are all high in sugar. Because of the amount of “bad fats” we get from fast foods, processed foods, packaged
foods, we have to give our bodies some ammunition in the form of “good fats” to deal with all these bad fats.
Omega 3 and 6 good fats are the answer. You want to lose weight, improve your skin, be smarter? Take your
Omegas every day!!! They also reduce cravings as your brain is fed very essential fats.
Next, is vitamins and minerals. I believe strongly that whole foods are what we are meant to eat and what we
are designed to have for healing and growing. Vitamins are important, but minerals are the catalyst for everything
in our bodies. What this means is that minerals ignite every action in our cells and bodies. No vitamin can work
without the proper minerals. Research has now proven without any doubt that there are at least 10,000 vitamins
and minerals in each of our vegetables. Scientists have discovered a handful of these 10,000 to date so when we
take isolated vitamins and minerals from a supplement we are missing thousands of essential elements. This is why
you are so much better off eating the whole food, rather than eating isolated parts of food in a vitamin/mineral tablet.
What do I mean by whole food? This means eat the apple not the apple juice, eat the fresh broccoli not the frozen,
eat the real oatmeal rather than the packaged. Having a meal of slightly steamed fresh veggies, a tossed raw salad
and baked deep water fish is very whole food. A breakfast of a fresh fruit salad and/or a soy protein shake is also
whole food. As close to nature as possible is what needs to be put in our mouths. The fastest way to turn around any
“dis-ease”, including depression, is to eat raw, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, along with raw nuts and seeds, and
your good oils.
Also critical for overall health are enzymes and friendly bacteria. Lets discuss enzymes first. We are mainly concerned
about two kinds of enzymes – digestive and metabolic. Digestive enzymes help break things down in our body and
metabolic are the building blocks of every cell in our bodies. When we have low digestive enzymes, our miraculous body
can change our metabolic enzymes into digestive enzymes so that the big dinner we ate can be digested. However, that
means we are depleting our very essential metabolic enzymes which give us life. The more we do this the more we age and
get far out of balance and this allows depression and disease. Also, when we do not have enough digestive enzymes, our body
because it is so intelligent, will produce something called candida yeast to break down excess undigested foods, toxins, non-foods etc.
This overabundance of candida can give us all kinds of unpleasant symptoms which also can lead to depression.
Friendly bacteria is the bacteria that we are supposed to have in our bodies to help with digestion and keeping bad bacteria
under control. Medication, antibiotics, drugs, sugar, chlorine, pop, etc. will all kill friendly bacteria so if we are consuming too
many harmful foods, our body never has a chance to rebuild its friendly bacteria. A product called acidophilus is friendly
bacteria and is available from health food stores. It is also called a probiotic which is the opposite of antibiotic. It does the
same work as an antibiotic but it is supportive of the body rather than killing all bacteria in the body.
Keeping all of the following items to a minimum or avoiding entirely will encourage and promote rapid healing
and bringing the body back to balance:
1) White sugar and flour, including all wheat (gluten is linked to depression)
2) All soda pops and carbonated beverages
(deplete us rapidly of nutrients and strength)
3) Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
4) Foods additives such as MSG, dyes, artificial sweeteners
(well disguised on labels)
5) Processed dairy products (unless you can obtain free range organic)
6) Animal products (unless you can obtain free range organic)
7) Chemicals such as chlorine, drugs, medications, nicotine
8) Bad fats such as margarine, lard, anything deep fried
9) Anything microwaved
Highly beneficial nutrients for bringing the body back to balance, giving the body the power to reverse
depression, disease, acidity and aging include:
1. Complex carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables which include the most powerful fruits and
vegetables: carrot, parsley, beet, broccoli, kale, cabbage, spinach, tomato, apple, orange, pineapple, cranberry,
acerola cherries and papaya.
2. Soybeans and soy products
3. Beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruits
4. Whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, kamut, rye, millet, barley, spelt, quinoa
5. Salmon, white fish, range fed turkey, eggs
6. For sugar, use honey, molasses, cane sugar, stevia
7. Minerals/vitamins – selenium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, chromium, niacin, Vitamin D, B vitamins – all of
which are best derived from food rather than specific supplements. (It is important to understand that supplements
may be needed for short term treatment of a depletion, but how do we know when that depletion is filled?)
There are many non medicinal ways to alleviate depression to go along with good nutrition, some of them are:
1. Homeopathy (many books and practitioners available)
2. Aromatherapy is easy to apply and is enjoyable
3. Exercise – probably the most important thing to do
4. Sunlight – activates Vitamin D (the happy vitamin) in our bodies
5. Acupressure, massage and reflexology are all very supportive
6. Reading motivational, supportive books (library and excellent source)
7. Reading spiritual healing books and working with prayer, meditation and caring
In summary, by putting all of the basic nutrients into your body on a daily basis, depression can be avoided or reversed.
However, once depression has set in, it can be quite challenging to even imagine having the energy or desire to do any
of these things. I recommend a whole food supplement that gets into the cells which means it is bio-available. This
supplement would contain all the basic micro nutrients for the body: plant based vitamins and minerals, live enzymes,
and friendly bacteria. This supplement would also contain all the powerful plant based antioxidants necessary to protect
cells from free radical damage (but that is another whole topic), and has all the plant proteins that are critical for rebuilding.
It is also important to use a soy based powerful protein beverage which has all the macro nutrients needed for building
including chromium which is highly anti depressive. These two nutritional choices, when taken regularly, have the ability
to “sneak” in the back door with nutrition and balance the body with very little effort and work.