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Your Nutrient Tool Kit For Depression

Updated: May 23, 2019

What is depression?

Do you often suffer from low mood, have no energy, sleep issues, feel agitated, restless, guilty, have low self-esteem, gut disturbances, gain little pleasure out of life and/or suicidal thoughts? You may have depression.

Individuals could be experiencing the same symptoms of depression but what is going on inside them is very different.

Depression is a very complex condition, it’s not always as simple as merely a shortage of certain brain chemicals (serotonin & dopamine, commonly associated with depression) but can be a result of, or an accumulation of:

  • genetics

  • chronic conditions

  • medications

  • stress

  • imbalanced hormones, gut bacteria &/or nutrient levels

  • life trauma

  • toxic environment

  • bad lifestyle habits

  • mood dysregulation

  • inflammation

Several of these can manifest together to bring about depression.

Regardless of what brought about your depression and which factors are working together to keep you in that state, there will be a degree to which healthy eating can help.

Below is a nutrient toolkit which you can use to support you with your struggle. Remember that it is important to know your body and what works for you. Try the different food combinations and see how your body responds, to come up with the best possible nutrient combination for yourself. It is also important to combine the below with regular exercise and sufficient filtered water intake.

  • Iron – beef, chicken liver, oysters, mussels, spinach, red kidney beans, chickpeas

  • Omega-3 fatty acids – oily fish, walnuts, ground flaxseeds

  • Magnesium – pumpkin, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, dark chocolate

  • Potassium – salmon, mackerel, spinach, apricots, peaches, prunes, spinach

  • Selenium – brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, mussels, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds

  • Vitamin A – spinach, sweet potato, carrots, kale, romaine lettuce, tuna

  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) – flaxseeds, sunflowers seeds, macadamia nuts, pork, salmon

  • Niacin (vitamin B3) – tuna, lamb liver, peanuts, white mushrooms, sunflower seeds

  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) – sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, tuna, salmon, turkey

  • Folate (vitamin B9) – beef liver, black eyed peas, mung beans, lentils, chickpeas, spinach

  • Vitamin B12 – mussels, beef liver, oysters, fortified foods

  • Vitamin C – guava, peppers, kale, kiwis, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower

  • Zinc – oysters, dark chocolate, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds

Supplementation with any of these nutrients is not recommended without consulting a health care practitioner.

The bottom line, meat eaters try to eat more oysters, mussels and/or organ meats and vegetarians/vegans add more leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables into your diet

Side note: Psychological trauma

It can be very difficult to think about eating when your body is stressed following trauma. Your body will also not be focused on digestion, it will be in the fight or flight mode. However, it is critical at this time to keep your nutrient levels up as these have a massive impact on mood. During this time, try and consume foods that are easy to digest and full of nutrients, such as vegetable soups/smoothies. You could also try meditation and yoga to lower cortisol levels so that the body can focus on digestion.


Green leafy salad (eat hot or cold)

What you’ll need

A handful of kale

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Sea salt and pepper to taste

2 tbps olive oil

A handful of spinach

200g cooked chickpeas (or 100g grilled salmon for meat-eaters)

1 small sweet potato cooked & cubed

2 tbps mixed seeds

1 tspn balsamic vinegar

What to do

Lightly heat up the kale with the garlic, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan for 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas (or salmon) and spinach and heat for a further minute. Mix in the sweet potato cubes. Transfer to a bowl (allow to cool if desired), top with the seeds and vinegar.

Vegetarian chickpea and lentil curry

What you’ll need

½ red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

400 g chickpeas

400 g chopped tomatoes

¼ cup red lentils

250ml water

5 small broccoli florets, roughly diced

1 handful spinach

1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

What to do

Lightly heat up the onion and garlic with the spices and oil in a medium pan for 2 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, chickpeas, tomatoes, lentils and water. Stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Serve topped with the cilantro.

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