Your gut health may hold the answer to treating depression and its symptoms

New Delhi, 16 June 2018: Nutrition is an important factor in managing depression and its symptoms, according to recent research. The brain is composed of 60% fat and, the kind of fat that a person includes in the diet affects brain health. Research proves that brain health improves with a higher intake of Omega 3 fatty acids. There is a need to create awareness on the importance of healthy eating.
Depression affects about 300 million people around the world. It is not just a state of sadness, and in a sense, it isn’t even a mental illness since it affects both mind and body. Depression is also one of the most common causes of suicides and therefore, something that can be prevented.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India, said, “The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables on physical health are well-recognized. And, several studies have established the advantages of consuming such a diet. However, what is not so widely known is that such a diet pattern also benefits a person’s psychological health. The gastrointestinal tract is now considered our ‘second brain’. It has over 500 million neurons, more than those in the spinal cord. The intestine is an intelligent sensing organ that transmits a lot of information back to the brain. About 300 to 600 species of different bacteria performing a host of beneficial functions, including boosting the immune system, aiding in metabolism and digestion, and helping in neurotransmission and signaling in the brain reside in the intestine. An alteration in the type or number of these bacterial colonies can cause ‘inflammation’ of the body and thus, many diseases.
In depression, a person experiences fatigue and low energy, body aches, headaches and cramps, irritability, insomnia/excessive sleep, feeling of guilt, worthlessness, losing interest in activities, difficulty in concentration/making decisions, change in appetite and weight, morbid thoughts, lack of confidence, social withdrawal and thoughts about suicide and death.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “A right and healthy diet is the best gift you can give to the body and the brain. Eating well can become a positive step in the right direction, if followed diligently.
Some tips from HCFI.
• Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly
• Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
• Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain.
• At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
• Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar.
• Choose healthy fats. Use fat-free or low-fat milk and/or dairy products.
• Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
• Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
• Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.

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