What A Depressing Week and How Food Can Help

The Lempert Report
November 06, 2020

There is new evidence that a nutrient profiling system can aid in depression.

It’s been a tough week for us all on many different levels – I’m sure you would agree, but there is new evidence that a nutrient profiling system can aid in depression. And no, its not about chocolates, caviar and champagne! Or even the comfort foods like cookies and mac & cheese; that many have been relying on since the pandemic began.

In an article published in the World Journal of Psychiatry authored by Laura LaChance and Drew Ramsey a systematic review was conducted to derive a list of Antidepressant Nutrients from the 34 nutrients that are known to be essential.

Twelve Antidepressant Nutrients relate to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders: Folate, iron, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc. The highest scoring foods were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various seafoods, and organ meats for animal foods. The highest scoring plant foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.

It’s called the Antidepressant Food Score – designed to identify the most nutrient-dense individual foods to prevent and promote recovery from depressive disorders and symptoms.

The first nutritional guidelines to prevent depression were published earlier this year. They recommend following a traditional dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean diet, consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and avoiding processed foods, for example those high in refined carbohydrate or sugar. An international consortium of mental health and nutrition researchers recently recommended “nutritional psychiatry” become a routine part of mental health clinical practice.

Deficiencies of long-chained omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D these nutrients can cause depressive symptoms.

Studies have repeatedly found that “traditional” or “whole foods” dietary patterns are significantly correlated with a decreased prevalence and incidence of depressive disorders or symptoms.

Unfortunately our Western dietary patterns have been found to be associated with an increased relative risk of the same. The SUN cohort study followed 10094 university students for 4 years and found those with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) showed a greater than 30% reduced risk of developing depression over the study period compared with participants with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern.

Among the 47% of studies that found a positive impact of a dietary intervention, common recommendations were to increase consumption of fruit, vegetables, fiber, and fish.

So what should we be eating to decrease depression, anxiety and perhaps even be happier?

The Antidepressant Food Score is broken into animal based and plant based foods:

The number one the list with a score of 56% is oysters, followed by Liver and Organic Meats, Poultry giblets, then Clams and mussels – at the bottom of list? Emu and Snapper.

On the plant based list #1 by far is Watercress, followed by spinach, mustard, turnip or beet greens, red, green and romaine lettuces and swiss chard. At the bottom strawberries and lemons.

The number one category at 48% vegetables, then 25% organ meats.

This tool is based on a systematic literature review, evidence-informed list of Antidepressant Nutrients, and nutrient density calculation.  I love the fact that we investigating and researching how using foods as medicine instead of pharmaceuticals have benefits.

Next step? A special call out in every supermarket to share this important information to shoppers.