How Nutrition is Linked to Depression

img_0354What does it look like? Depression can mean having a hard time getting out of bed, not wanting to talk, even to the people you love the most, feeling like it’s a chore to do things that used to be fun, having trouble concentrating or even remembering. It might sometimes mean having to pretend everything’s just fine.

The musician, Kid Cudi, recently shared that he has suffered from long-standing depression. Although we know success does not equate to feeling joy, some may wonder why someone like him would feel depressed. Unfortunately, depression can have many causes, including difficult life circumstances, medical changes or genetic predisposition. It can be a complicated process to understand, even for the person who is suffering.

I appreciate that Kid Cudi shared about his mental health, because at least for a little while, the media is accurately describing depression for what it is, not a shameful secret, not something that happens to someone else, and especially not a weakness of character, but an illness that may be affecting our colleagues, loved ones and even us. And we don’t have to pretend it isn’t.

There are ways sufferers may naturally manage symptoms or in some cases, even resolve them (under professional medical and psychological care), depending on the source, especially if they may be partly or fully due to nutritional imbalance.

  • One of the most common biological factors involved in depression is unbalanced blood sugar. Even if a person doesn’t have diabetes, fluctuation in blood sugar can affect mood negatively.
  • Chromium deficiency is another nutritional issue that can cause mood issues. It reduces insulin resistance so again, there’s the relationship between blood sugar and mood.
  • Food allergies are found to be related to depression. A food and mood log might help determine which foods are causing problems. To determine a pattern, it might be helpful to continue logging for a couple of months.
  • Omega-3 fats help build connections in the brain, so a deficiency can contribute to  negative mood.

Check out Food for the Brain to read more about natural options for depression. Speak with your primary care physician or psychiatrist, as well as a clinical therapist for appropriate care. An article in The Atlantic  gives some insight into Kid Cudi’s challenges with depression and his decision to receive treatment.

Hey Baby, Can I Get Some Sugar?

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I was ballooning into the marshmallow man. I thought I might just up and fly away at any moment. The doctor completed several tests as part of the joy of pregnancy. “Spit into that, drink this, let’s draw your blood twelve more times.” I was an ever-growing guinea pig.

Ultimately, the doctor came back with the dreadful diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I wasn’t expecting any diagnoses, especially not that, despite a strong family history of diabetes. I guess I figured I was young, a ripe 21-years-old and generally healthy, so there couldn’t be any concern. Yet, I was predisposed. I was told that it would likely go away after pregnancy with the warning that if I didn’t take care of myself, I could develop diabetes. “And that can cause many problems,” he added. For a fun read on complications of diabetes, check out the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/diabetes/basics/complications/con-20033091

I was crushed by the news that someone, a very tiny someone, was currently getting in the way of me and my sugar fix. And that it also meant there would be an ongoing obstacle between me and my sugar. No one had ever stopped me from my destiny before – candy bars, lollipops, ring pops, brownie a la mode, rock candy. It was a free-for-all. In fact, everyone encouraged my love for it. If they loved me, they knew that I loved sweet things. When I was younger, my grandma would sometimes wake me up to deliver a variety of candy in the middle of the night, which she obtained from my aunt who returned home with goodies after working the second shift. With a big smile, I would sleepily gobble it all up and go right back to sleep, as though it was a normal nighttime ritual. When I visited my other aunt’s house, she would have cupboard after glorious cupboard fully stocked with cookies, ice cream and chocolate. When speaking with her before my visits, she’d give me a run down of the expansive sweet inventory that she obtained.

Sugar and I, we were always great childhood friends. If I couldn’t get a hold of some form of candy, well, I’d just rip open a packet of sugar, pour it into the palm of my hand, and throw it back. Of course, because it’s one of my few vices anymore, my body recently said I couldn’t have it. When I eat sugar, sometimes even if just a couple of bites, my head starts hurting and my ever finicky digestive system screams out in frustration, letting me know that I’m heading toward fast, furious sugar overload.

Surprisingly, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be once I came to find out that sugar has turned its back on me. For a delusionally long time, I’ve known that sugar is terrible, and that I should cut down. But now, my body is quite adamant that things have changed. It rejects even my small indulgences rather quickly. And I’m trying to accept this by rejecting it back. And that’s okay. Because who needs sugar? Nobody (Wait, wait, I do. No I don’t. Yes I do. Ugh. It’s a hard fight).