The quality of the nutrients in our daily diet is a fundamental aspect in our state of physical and mental health. Surprisingly for many, numerous scientific references have recently come to light that confirm the close relationship between diet, mood and mental health. Although there is no specific diet to combat depression and anxiety, there are foods that play a fundamental role in the prevention and proper management of these conditions that both deteriorate the quality of life. Based on this, it has been proven that omega-3 fatty acids are probably the most important nutrient to deal with these conditions. Recently, researchers from Harvard University joined the long list of scientific references in which the power of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet of people prone to depression, altered moods, nervousness and anxiety is verified.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat and are considered an essential nutrient, this means that the body does not have the ability to produce them on its own and it requires obtaining them through food. The truth is that the body needs this type of fat to carry out different physiological processes. According to information released by the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC), omega-3 consumption helps maintain normal cholesterol levels, helps strengthen neurons, keeps the heart healthy and protected against stroke. They also benefit weight loss and are a powerful health ally, they shine for their anti-inflammatory properties that protect us from the risk of suffering from numerous chronic diseases and strengthen the immune system. However, one of the aspects that attracts the most attention is that they are considered a powerful natural antidepressant.
Today we know that one of the strongest recommendations for medicinal nutrition and one that most experts agree on lies in increasing the consumption of natural sources of omega-3s. It is recommended a consumption of 5 to 10% of total calories.
What are its benefits for fighting depression?
The first thing to keep in mind is that depression has been shown to be a less common condition in countries with high fish consumption. Based on it Scientists around the world have investigated whether fish oils can prevent and / or treat depression and other mood disorders.
His discoveries have been relevant in the field of medicine and nutrition. Two types of omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are believed to have the greatest potential to benefit people with mood disorders. Based on this, they have wondered how they positively intervene to improve depression, the truth is that it has been detected different mechanisms of action. The most popular: omega-3s can easily travel through the membrane of brain cells and interact with mood-related molecules within the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory actions that can help relieve depression and this is no coincidence, it is a fact that has been proven with more than 30 clinical trials linking the effectiveness of different omega-3 preparations in people with depression.
Clinical trials typically use EPA alone or a combination of EPA plus DHA, in doses of 0.5 to 1 gram per day to 6 to 10 grams per day. For more context: 1 gram per day would correspond to eating three meals of salmon per week. In general we can say that Meta-analyzes that have focused on analyzing the results of multiple studies generally suggest that omega-3s are an effective dietary addition. What happens is that the findings are not unanimous due to the variability between the doses, the ratios of EPA to DHA and other design problems in the studies.
The truth is that the preparations most effective appear to have at least one 60% EPA in relation to DHA. While DHA is believed to be less effective as an antidepressant, it may have protective effects against suicide. This is suggested by a recent research work, led by the Massachusetts General Hospital and Emory University which suggests that depressed people who are overweight and have high inflammatory activity may be particularly good candidates for EPA treatment. Children and teens with depression can also benefit from omega-3 supplementation. In fact, Harvard University is currently conducting a study on the effects of omega-3 supplementation (alone or in combination with vitamin D) to prevent depression in healthy older adults.
What are the best sources of omega-3s?
There are 2 sources of omega 3 fatty acids: those of plant and marine origin, this is good news for people who follow a plant-based diet and who do not usually consume fish and shellfish. The truth is that one of the best alternatives for to obtain a high and balanced consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is to follow the Mediterranean diet, based on the consumption of vegetables, cereals, fish and white meat. It has been classified as the best diet for the 4th year in a row and is associated with great health benefits, including its properties to improve cardiovascular health, lose weight, stimulate the immune system and improve mood. Among many other great benefits.
Therefore, a good start to reduce the risk of suffering from depressive conditions, altered emotional states and anxiety, is to make changes in lifestyle and especially diet. Best of all, increasing your consumption of products rich in omega-3 fatty acids is simple, delicious, and affordable. Bet on the consumption of foods higher in omega-3:
– Fresh salmon: 2.5 grams
– Mackerel: 2.67 grams
– Tuna: 1.29 grams
– Spinach: 0.13 grams
– Brussels sprouts: 0.09 grams
– Olive oil: 0.76 grams
– Walnuts: 2.0 grams
Complementary to this, the consumption of other foods of animal and vegetable origin, which are also rich in Omega-3, is recommended.
- Other fish and shellfish. Especially cold-water fatty fish such as herring and sardines, also bet on the others, shrimp and mussels.
- Seeds and nuts. Like flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, pistachios and pine nuts.
- Plant oils. The best options are flaxseed oil, soybean oil (soybean) and canola oil)
- Fortified foods. Bet on the consumption of eggs, yogurt, milk and soy drinks, fortified with Omega-3.
- Supplements. Supplement a balanced diet with the consumption of 2 omega-3 supplement capsules that provide 1.0 gram of omega-3.
On the recommended daily intake, experts emphasize that it tends to change according to the stage of life in which each person is. However, they advise an average of between 1.0 and 1.6 grams per day, depending on whether it is children, adolescents, adults, pregnant and lactating women. Complementary to this, it is essential to follow a healthy lifestyle, do physical activity, rest well and control stress levels.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.