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  • Natasha Brice

Can diet, supplementation and lifestyle interventions really affect depression?

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

The gut microbiota hypothesis posits that depression is closely related with gut microbiota and that microbiota–gut–brain axis dysfunction is the main pathological basis of depression. 

Other contributors include:

  • Genetic polymorphisms

  • Inflammatory cytokines inducing neuroinflammation

  • Disturbed neuroendocrine regulation

  • Thyroid disorders: thyroid patients are more prone to develop depressive symptoms and conversely depression may be accompanied by various subtle thyroid abnormalities

  • Environmental stressors: heavy metals, including lead and cadmium are implicated in the etiogenesis of psychiatric disorders

  • Various nutrient deficiencies

Lifestyle factors include

  • Smoking/caffeine (both stimulate adrenal secretion)

  • Alcohol

  • Prescription drugs

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Pre-existing physical conditions

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Poor diet/food intolerances

All of these are said to contribute to depression. Research has shown us time and time again that these issues can all be addressed through diet, specific protocols and lifestyle changes.

A 2016 and 2018 study found that the Mediterranean diet being antioxidant rich, is proven to reduce symptoms of depression. Omega-3s found in fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and mackerel, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines (CRP, TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-6) and improves insulin sensitivity, two factors that are known to contribute to depression. High consumption of omega-6 oils found in processed foods such as cakes and biscuits may have the opposite effect.

There is so much that can be done to help improve symptoms of depression. The list is too exhaustive to list here, but below are few of the things I use to help my clients:

  • Increase tryptophan rich foods

  • Identify and improve nutrient deficiencies

  • If heavy metals are found, follow a comprehensive detox protocol

  • Exercise: A 2007 study, suggested that exercise and standard antidepressant treatments were equally effective. Another 2012 study found 50 min walk in nature showed cognitive and affective benefits.

Adopting these changes and addressing the issues that are unique to you, getting outdoors as much as you can in a local park or joining walking groups, can all have a profound effect on your mental health.


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