Since starting a full (90-95%) Primal diet in November 2012, the depression that has dogged me my entire adult life (I'm 34) has almost completely vanished - leaving me balanced, happier and able to interact with the world in a normal way.
I am not here to make any generalized claims about the connection between diet and depression, or guarantee that if you are suffering from depression, PB will cure it, but if you have any level of depression in your life, and haven't tried this way of living yet, I urge you to try it for 30 days. I have just a few observations to offer - things that I've learned, regarding the connections (or likely connections) between diet and the condition known as 'depression'
- Depression refers to what is usually a range of different malfunctions of the brain, other organs and particularly the endocrine (hormone) system - a finely balanced array of processes and chemical interactions that require the right nutrients in order to function. It is primarily a physical condition, with secondary psychiatric symptoms. Some are more prone to it than others, but anyone can have it.
- The brain is made of over 60% fat (saturated fat and cholesterol) - therefore it doesn't require a scientist to realize that a low fat diet may cause brain malfunction. Anti-depressants will reduce the psychiatric symptoms, but the underlying brain structure will continue to weaken if diet is not improved.
- The human body is ingenious at using 'substitutes' so if you are on a low fat diet, it will make do with what it has available, which is why depression is usually a long-term condition involving very gradual, almost imperceptible, degradations to the brain and other organs.
- Absence of a body clock is a symptom of depression. The body clock is regulated by the timed release of different hormones at different times of the day. Exposure to sunlight helps to regulate these, but without the right hormones being made in the first place, you won't have a body clock. The body cannot make hormones (or indeed anything at all) from processed foods.
- Social interaction is (believe it or not) promoted by the release of endorphins (a hormone) into the body. Not able to make endorphins? You won't enjoy other peoples' company much. Ditto for dating and relationships.
- Exercise allows an exchange of nutrients to occur in all the body's cells by opening up the blood vessels and capillaries - its like getting an internal spring clean, which is why you feel so good afterwards. Feeling good is a marker of general bodily health. If you want to be in a good mood, start eating fresh produce and do moderate exercise. But if you believe yourself to be depressed, prioritise nutrition and don't do any physically exhausting exercise, even though it may provide temporary numbness from the condition.
- A diet high in refined sugar, which is bad enough for anyone, is for depressed people like throwing parrafin onto a fire. The highs and lows of the insulin spike (buzzing and then crashing) will throw what is already an unstable system into chaos. Adrenaline is released when blood sugar becomes too low. It dissolves other body tissues and over time causes adrenal fatigue - a serious condition. The slow drip-feed of adrenalin into the body of a depressed individual is the most physically damaging aspect of the illness, and it cannot be seen. With regular consumption of refined sugar, the body and brain are subjected to a perpetual state of low-level panic. Cutting out the sugar alone can be enough to make your life manageable and liveable. For more information on this area, google hypoglycaemia and depression. If this is you - cut sugar out of your diet for 48 hours and see how you feel.
- Healing your gut lining will hugely help because there is much evidence that when undigested proteins pass into the bloodstream via a leaky gut (especially gluten) this causes inflammation in the body which can interfere with hormone function (see above). Switching your carbohydrate sources form grains to roots and fruits is one of the most effective ways to heal your gut. A very low-carbohydrate diet may not be suitable for depression, and you can still achieve weight loss with moderate amounts of starches in your diet.
Last edited by Owen; 06-16-2014 at 01:30 PM.