For women who have depression or want to improve their state of mind, the most common natural advice is to have a healthy and nutritious diet and a consistent exercise routine and sleep schedule.
However, a woman who has an out-of-whack diet, fitness and sleep routine can find the above challenging. A gradual process of changing all three can seem more manageable, so the first routine this series will focus on is diet.
Cynthia Melde, a nutrition and physical activity manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity, said in an e-mail that good nutrition can “alleviate mild forms of depression.”
“In order for our body to create neurotransmitters, we require vitamins such as B12 and folate and various amino acids found in protein,” Melde said. “Providing the right building blocks for our neurotransmitters helps create a healthy state of mind.”
She said women should focus on eating the following foods:
- Unrefined whole grains
- Healthy plant-based fats, such as extra virgin olive oil
- Fruits and vegetables
- Omega-3 fats found in fish and nuts and seeds
- Good sources of protein, like white breast meat from chicken and turkey
- Fish oil and B vitamins
Women should avoid “large amounts of added sugar,” she said.
“Focus on incorporating more of the positive,” Melde said. “For example, a woman can think about how she can eat more fruits and vegetables or incorporate fish two to three times per week instead of avoiding or removing foods.”
Trudy Scott, a certified nutritionist and vice president of the board of directors of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, said in an e-mail that she works with women on their diet to improve their state of mind.
“They see huge improvements in depression, anxiety and worry, irritability, overwhelm, anger and even low self-esteem,” Scott said. “They also experience better sleep, eliminate sugar cravings and have better energy.”
Some foods that can result in depression and anxiety are gluten (which is found in wheat, oats, rye and barley), caffeine and artificial sweeteners, she said.