Depression and anxiety are common forms of mental illness. In fact, 18% of mental illness disorders that are diagnosed each year are anxiety related. Now evidence is mounting that eating habits can correlate to mental health. If you eat healthy most of the time, you probably had a visit to a fast food joint that made you feel, let’s say – not as sharp as you normally are. What happens to one’s mental state if overall eating and drinking habits are poor all the time?
The World Journal of Psychiatry has published “Antidepressant Foods: An Evidence-based Nutrient Profiling System for Depression,” by Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, and Dr. Laura LaChance of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. It includes a nutrient-profile scale, which identifies the most nutrient-dense foods in relation to “the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders.”
Many of the foods recommended are rich in certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and potassium to name a few. These include food like dark leafy greens, wild salmon, nuts, beans, and seeds.
One patient who suffered from depression was guided by her counselor to re-examine her dietary habits. Spices like turmeric and ginger became everyday staples. While her healthier diet didn’t eliminate her depression completely, she was better able to deal with it, whereas before her depression was bad enough for her to miss work.
Besides eating habits, other factors such as gut health, sleep patterns and exercise are now being looked at in totality rather than just addressing symptoms and prescribing a drug with potential side effects. Medical professionals who look at these issues with a top-down approach are not yet in the majority. One example was a person who was diagnosed with ADHD and given medication, which then resulted in sleeplessness. Then a second medication was prescribed to help with sleep, so instead on 2 hours of sleep, it was 5 hours. In the meantime, the individual was drinking soda and sweet tea all day long and few if any vegetables.
How does tea play into the depression and mental health?
Some of the ingredients, like ginger and turmeric, can already be found in numerous tea blends and is a good way to expose yourself to these herbs while hydrating throughout the day. But tea even on its own has been shown to have positive effects on depression, a cited by some of these studies.
Besides beneficial anti-oxidants that can have numerous health benefits, tea combined with good diet can also promote better mental health. The one caveat is that anything with added sugars will negate the health benefits. This is why bottled tea or southern sweet tea is not recommended. So while tea alone cannot cure depression, drinking tea and addressing all other lifestyle factors will probably not hurt. It is encouraging that studies like these will push diet and other lifestyles further into the mainstream. As always, use a qualified professional when diagnosing any illness or disease.
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When ever we consider a holistic approach, we optimize the overall benefits to our body. Tea is an excellent addition to any healthy diet. The ritual of tea provides an emotional component that has the potential to positively impact our mental health. The additional benefits of hydration are always an important factor along with the countless polyphenals that exist in tea all come together to make this ancient brew a health beverage for the 21st Century. If optimzing your health and wellness is important to you, tea should be included in our daily regement. As mentioned, drink it straight up – without sugar.