When most folks think of brain food, they think of those food groups associated with high cognitive and memory function: fatty fish, dark chocolate, berries, nuts, and whole grains, amongst others.
Research has shown that all of these tasty treats sharpen brain function and assist in the performance of intellectual tasks. Given this background, it is not surprising that emerging studies also show that many of these same foods have a positive impact on mental health! The brain, after all, is not just the intellectual motor of the body, but also the control center for our mood. Brain food, then, might deserve a broader definition encompassing both intellectual and emotional benefits.
Diet for the Mind: Natural Supplements for Depression
A meta-analysis of research from 10 countries conducted by investigators at Linyi People’s Hospital in Shandong, China demonstrates a link between diet and depression. In another study led by Felice Jacka, Ph.D., director of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University in Australia, one-third of adults who worked with a dietician to tilt eating habits away from junk food and towards more nutrient-rich foods—such as produce, fish and legumes—achieved depression remission.
These studies (and others like them) contribute to growing evidence that natural supplements for depression—either via dietary patterns or specific vitamin, mineral, and nutrient uptake—have a demonstrable impact on mental health. A diet for the mind is not just a catchy phrase, but a notion backed by science. This is encouraging, as it provides those suffering from depression with a new strategy to manage their illness.
Specific brain foods that investigators have identified include those mentioned above, as well as broad-based multi-nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids which can be found principally in fish and, to a lesser extent, in eggs, strawberries, kiwifruit, and broccoli.
Brain Food is Not a Silver Bullet
As encouraging as the studies concerning diet and mental health may be, not all who suffer from depression will find relief from incorporating brain food into their eating habits. Indeed, many sufferers will struggle to alleviate symptoms, no matter the intervention. Folks in this position may have what is referred to as treatment resistant depression (TRD)—a diagnosis often made when a person has tried two or more antidepressant medications to no avail.
Fortunately, nutrition is not the only emerging treatment that has proven effective in providing relief where other methods have failed. Ketamine infusion therapy is another frontier of mental health treatment that studies have demonstrated to be startlingly effective, especially where TRD is concerned. After a standard regimen of 4-6 infusions over a 2-week period, 70% of people suffering from depression have seen remarkable benefit, with 25% achieving complete remission.
If you think ketamine infusion therapy might be right for you, speak to your primary care physician and do not hesitate to contact us at Vitalitas Denver—a mental health treatment clinic with a full suite of medical staff specializing in ketamine infusion therapy.