Depression is a mental illness that is characterized by negative thoughts and behaviors. Depression is a disorder associated with symptoms such as increased sadness, anxiety, loss of appetite, depressed mood, and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities (Parekh, 2017).
Treatment options include medications, therapy, and self-care. Examples of self care include sleep, physical activity, and diet. It is important as medication and therapy sometimes more even more. Needless to say that Nutritional factors are intertwined with human cognition, behavior, and emotions (Tello, 2018).
The article Understanding nutrition, depression, and mental illnesses describes how depression is thought of as strictly biochemical based or strong feelings. However, nutrition can play a key role in the onset and duration of depression. Studies show there is a noticeable food pattern that comes before depression this is the same as those that occur during depression. For example, poor appetite, skipping meals, and a dominant desire for sweet foods. (Rao, T. S., Asha, M., Ramesh, B., & Rao, K. J, 2008)
Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms, it is caused by modification of gene expression. DNA doesn’t compose the helical structure of the human genome. Epigenes lies above the genome adding another layer to the spiraled genetic structure. Due to environmental factors such as stress, cigarette smoking, and food alter epigones to change the structure of genes. These epigenetic modifications activate and deactivate genes in ways that help or harm a person’s health. Food is one essential way in which a person can control their epigenetic (Gaynor, 2014).
In the article Nutritional psychiatry your brain on food: discusses how Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. How does this relate to depression ? Since about 95% of a person’s serotonin is produced in their gastrointestinal tract, and their gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, the inner workings of a person digestive system do not just help a person digest food, but also guide their emotions (Selhub, 2015).
“Studies have found that deficiencies in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are often associated with depression” (Rao et al.,2008).
The function of the neurotransmitters and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is highly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up a persons intestinal microbiome. These bacteria play an essential role in a person’s health. They protect the lining of a person’s intestines and ensure they provide a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria; they limit inflammation; they improve how well a person absorb nutrients from their food; and they activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain.
Making poor food choices and selecting foods that might actually contribute to depression. Recent evidence suggests a link between low levels of serotonin and suicide. Low serotonin levels are often attributed to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, insomnia, obesity, fibromyalgia, eating disorders, chronic pain, migraines, and alcohol abuse.
The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders are of omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are similar to neurotransmitters. Brain function can be affected by the availability of dietary precursors of neurotransmitters.
Research shows that deficiency of nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and tryptophan can have a negative effect on mood. Consequently, poor nutrition that results from loss of appetite can further exacerbate depression.