A Drug-Free Approach to Healing Depression
Dr. Joseph Mercola argues that depression is not a “disease.” Instead, he considers depression “a sign that your body and your life are out of balance.” While he acknowledges drugs may occasionally be appropriate, he believes antidepressant medications are seldom the best answer to depression. Instead, he recommends diet and general lifestyle changes to resolve this common mental health issue.
Research is increasingly pointing to a relationship between mental health and gastrointestinal health. Experts now believe the gut plays a more significant role in mental health than the brain. Flora in the intestines affect not only your physical health, but also your brain function. In fact, we know certain probiotics can help relieve anxiety.
Here are some of Dr. Mercola’s suggestions for restoring balance and overcoming depression:
Eat Real Food – Greatly reduce your intake of processed foods, sugar (especially fructose) and grains. In addition to their high levels of sugar and grain, processed foods also contain non-food additives that adversely affect brain function. These include MSG and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
Optomize Gut Flora – Up your consumption of probiotic foods, including fermented vegetables and kefir, to promote healthy bacteria in the intestines. Think of your gut as your second brain; scientists now know the intestines produce more neurotransmitters than the brain.
Get Enough Vitamin B12 – A deficiency in vitamin B12 contributes to depression. One in four people are deficient.
Optimize Vitamin D Levels – Vitamin D affects mood; one study showed people with the lowest levels of the vitamin were a dozen times more likely to experience depression than those with normal levels. Sensible sun exposure is the best way to optimize your levels of this vitamin.
Optimize Your Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio – Most of us consume too many omega-6 fats. To offset that, access good quality omega-3 sources such as krill oil. DHA is an animal based omega-3 fat, vital for good brain function and mental health.
Monitor Your Salt Intake – Be sure you are not sodium deficient; deficiency creates symptoms much like those of depression. However, do not use regular table salt. Instead, use an all natural unprocessed type of sale such as Himalayan salt, which provides more than 80 unique micronutrients.
Exercise Every Day – Exercise is one of your strongest allies in preventing and overcoming depression. Research proves a strong correlation between aerobic capacity and positive mood. The mind-body connection is powerful.
Get Enough Sleep – No matter how well you eat, what supplements you take, and what exercise you do, if you are not sleeping well you risk depression. The link between sleep and depression is such a close one that sleep disorder is one of the identifiable symptoms of depression.