Diet and Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Decrease Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition, and food alone is not a proven treatment, says Foster. Make sure to consult with health care professionals to ensure that you are finding the best help for you.

That said, he does point to the science suggesting that a healthier pattern of eating can have a positive effect on depression and staying hydrated plays a role in mood and cognitive function.

In addition, Foster says including two servings of fatty fish each week is recommended by the American Psychiatric Association because lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with depression.

“Sustainable change comes from making small behavioral changes to improve your diet that is actionable, manageable, and realistic – they should fit your life, not the other way around,” Foster says. Here are actionable steps he recommends to start making behavioral changes:

Set goals that are specific and reasonable.
Expect setbacks — remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.
Practice self-compassion.
Additionally, Naidoo suggests the following tips:

Keep well hydrated.
Pay attention to movement and exercise, as exercise helps release endorphins, which uplift your mood.
Sleep well, and practice good sleep hygiene.
Practice mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Maintain a daily gratitude journal – even something small like taking in that smile from your coffee barista is important to our wellbeing.
For the nutrition changes, Naidoo says to add one of these food sources per week and start building from there.

Eat more fiber, which you can easily obtain from vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, and healthy whole grains.
Eat prebiotic and fermented foods.
Include sources of omega-3s like fatty fish or plant-based sources like chia, flax, or hemp seeds.
Add spices like turmeric to your food to help boost mood.

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