Depression and Nutrition

By on September 5, 2013
beautiful African American women buying produce

By Erin Chamerlik –

All drugs have side effects, including over-the-counter medications. The most common side effects associated with anti-depressants

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia and nervousness
  • Agitation
  • Sexual problems

What a quandary! 19 million Americans want relief and help for depression. Quite often doctors give just two treatment options, medication and psychotherapy.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

There is a third option that is completely safe and without side effects. This effective treatment option is nutrition – food and natural supplements.*

Diet and Depression
The first step is to lay a great foundation by eating a balanced whole food diet. Develop the habit of eating three meals each day and two snacks. Build your meals and snacks around the triad protein-fat carbohydrate, by following the guidelines below.

Our brain needs to be nourished and the primary nutrient that we must eat three times a day is protein. Amino acids come from the protein that we eat and amino acids are the raw materials that the body uses to build happy brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

The most concentrated sources of protein for making neurotransmitters are found in animal sources like fish, poultry, beef, eggs, dairy, lamb, pork and venison.

Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure says, “There’s no question about this one, I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of people add more protein to their lives and report great changes in their moods within days as a result.” Ross also adds, “Most people seem to need 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal. That means at least a palm-of-your-hand-size portion of protein three times a day!”

The best meat to buy is grass-fed organic meat from a local producer. You may also purchase quality grass fed meat from on-line sources like

Our brains are two-thirds fat and having enough natural fat in our diet is critical to proper function of our happy brain chemicals! Omega-3 fatty acids are prevalent in fish like salmon, sardines, and herring.

Eat fish several times a week and supplement with a quality cod liver oil. Additionally, enjoy unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds and organic butter and cream.

Eating low-fat and fat-free is very harmful to the brain, nerves, hormones and every cell. Eliminate unhealthy processed fats like canola oil, margarine, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and any food that has been deep fried.

Load up on a variety of vegetables, the best carbohydrates for happy moods. Vegetable carbohydrates are a rich source of nutrients and they don’t sabotage your health and good mood like refined grains can.

Whole fruit, legumes, and unprocessed grains are nutrient rich foods that can also be included.

Eating a whole food diet will help avoid artificial ingredients commonly found in processed foods. Artificial sweeteners, MSG, dyes, preservatives and additives may cause great harm to brain cells and disrupt mood. To learn more about this topic, I recommend reading the book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock.

Several nutrients are very helpful for those suffering from depression, including Vitamin D3, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin B Complex, zinc and specific amino acids. Phyllis A. Balch provides dosage and additional information in her book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

Stop eating processed food and refined sugar
Sugar can lead to depression. Sugar is found in most processed foods, so avoid eating processed foods, breads, soft drinks and snacks that contain any sugar or refined flour which quickly converts into sugar in the bloodstream.

Add Spices
Herbs and spices improve blood sugar levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, and boost the brain. Enhance the flavor and health benefits of every meal by adding one or more of the following:

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Cumin
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Drink filtered water
Caffeine is dehydrating, so limit coffee and caffeinated tea and other drinks with caffeine, sugar or artificial sweeteners. Increasing your water intake impacts tryptophan’s availability to the brain.

Albert Grazia, M.S., N.D. says, “Depression may be another complication of chronic dehydration. The amino acid tryptophan is required by the brain to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which subsequently is needed to make melatonin.

An adequate amount of water is required for tryptophan to be transported into the brain. Dehydration may limit the amount of tryptophan available to the brain and to complicate matters.”2

How much water?
Drink half your body weight in ounces of filtered water. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds needs to drink 75 ounces of water each day. For more information of filtering water, please visit my website,

Using nutrition to restore balance and ease depression is an effective treatment option for many people. Rather than thinking of nutrition as a quick fix, continually build good habits into your life, making lifelong changes that will enable you to achieve your health goals now and in the future.

Read Carolyn’s story to learn how one woman has changed her diet to improve her mood.


1. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from

2. Grazia, A. Dangers of Chronic Dehydration. Retrieved from

*Always talk with your doctor before stopping medication.

Published by – Erin Chamerlik Copyright© 2011 All rights reserved
Email: [email protected]

About Erin Chamerlik

Erin Chamerlik is a health and wellness educator. She is a mentor and coach for people who are ready to change. Her company, Get Better Wellness, Inc., is based in Nashville, TN. Erin extends her message through blogging, podcasts, social media (Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest and Instagram), workshops and on-line webinars and Facebook health communities. Connect with Erin at

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Depression and Nutrition