Top Foods to Eat Your Way Out of Depression

There is a popular saying— ‘You are what you eat’. While this expression is often used in reference to physical health and fitness, it is applicable to mental health too, particularly depression.

Depression affects a whopping 264 million people worldwide. While depression is a complex disease that often requires multifaceted, custom-tailored and professional treatment, there is one thing you can do straight from the comfort of your home to alleviate your symptoms of depression— adjust your diet.

It’s no surprise that diet is linked to mood, this is the reason why people attempt to purge their sorrows with chocolate and pizza. However, when used appropriately, food can be a powerful tool to ameliorate your mood and boost your energy levels. And while you cannot literally eat your way out of depression, maintaining a proper diet can help ease some of the symptoms of depression.

The Healing Power of Protein
Many foods are well-known for helping to optimize the release of serotonin and dopamine, natural mood-lifting neurotransmitter that is closely linked with depression. But one food group takes the cake— that is protein. The brain relies on several essential amino acids that can only be found in protein rich foods to synthesize serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters..

Among proteins, turkey, wild-caught oily fish such as Tuna, Salmon and Herring, lean-beef, nuts, soy-products, beans, seeds, cheese and milk are not only delicious, they are known to be highly-effective at enhancing serotonin functioning.

Poultry, Nuts and Cheese
Poultry and cheese contain substantial amounts of essential amino-acid tryptophan, a key component of serotonin production. Tryptophan has also been linked to melatonin function and sleep improvement making it a useful tool to improve depression induced insomnia. Tryptophan is not made by your body naturally, your body must uptake it through diet.

Oil Rich Fish
Wild-caught fatty fish contain high-levels of omega-3 fatty acid, a supplement that has been linked to serotonin functioning. According to Harvard Health Publishing, depression occurs less frequently in countries where more oily fish is consumed. When used in combination with prescription anti-depressant medication, an Omega-3 dose of 1-2 grams per day (three to six servings of salmon per week) may be beneficial in helping to alleviate symptoms of depression.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large US population-based study conducted by the CDC found that depression scores were 26% lower in people who consumed nuts daily— especially omega-3 rich nuts like walnuts— than in people who didn’t consume nuts daily. On top of that, nuts are powerful antioxidants and natural inflammation alleviators, known to decrease stress and anxiety. They also contain substantial amounts of Tryptophan.

Milk is an excellent natural source of Vitamin-D. Although the exact relationship between Vitamin-D and mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin is unknown, there are several studies including a 2020 study that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, that show dietary supplementation with high doses of Vitamin-D can improve depression severity, especially for seasonal depression.

Beans and Seeds
Several varieties of beans and seeds such as soybeans, sesame seeds and flaxseed not only contain Tryptophan, they are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Additionally, white beans are rich in essential amino-acid Tyrosine, a key component for dopamine synthesis.

Adjusting your diet alone will not cure your depression. But it is an effective way to improve your overall physical health, enhance your mood and reclaim control over your mental well-being.



The Mind Gem Zone promotes healthy living and self-improvement. TMGZ writers are a group of bloggers and consultants aiming to provide insight for better physical, mental, spiritual, financial, and emotional health. The goal is to instill healthier lifestyles, mind states, and habits.

7 thoughts on “Top Foods to Eat Your Way Out of Depression

  1. Beth R. says:

    So many people underestimate the power of a proper diet! I have known people to come out of depression without any meds just by eating more healthy foods. I had no idea protein was beneficial though. I have heard of the others. Also, getting enough sunshine (vitamin D3) is important too!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I have been looking for a more natural approach to helping my brother. He has been on meds for depression for about 2 years now and has gained a lot of weight and just isn’t himself anymore. He is not active or outgoing. I feel like the pills have made him become passive. I talked with his doctor (I went with him for his last visit) and he agreed that diet changes could help so I have been researching things. Thanks for the info!

  3. Jane says:

    I just recently got into fitness and intuitive eating and I would definitely say that eating the right food helps you feel better. Its crazy how accessible junk food is these days! I totally agree that you are what you eat. I hope everyone learns that your eating habits not only affect your physical well-being but also the mental aspect!

  4. Thomas Kerge says:

    Don’t they always say : a healthy mind in a healthy body? It sure helps to get the right nutrition in order to “feel” good. And when feeling good about your body, your mindset is altered. Because of the pandemic, lot’s of people stayed at home and had less exercise. So nutrition becomes even more important. And just make sure you have enough folium acid en vitamin D. With summer coming, the vitamins should be less of a problem

  5. Christopher says:

    The problem is that people define ‘comfort food’ differently. Comfort food, does not have to be fattening, it does not have to be unhealthy. For every unhealthy snack, there is at least one alternative that is low on calories, high on necessary nutrients and vitamins and that is easy to prepare. Sure, you have to invest some time and effort into creating a healthy meal, but that can also be a fun experience and makes you more aware of what you stuff in your body. Preparing food, and just for a minute, not caring about the rest, can be very soothing.

  6. Tina says:

    I had never really thought about the link between foods and depression until more recently. This past winter I was just feeling more down that usual and a friend commented on if I was taking a vitamin D supplement because of my lack of outdoor activities, For our winters it can be cold for a couple months at a time and with young children I dont get to spend too much time in the sun or fresh air. I started taking Daily vitamins and my family and I switched to whole milk with vitamin D. After reading this article I can see how I can shape our diets this upcoming winter to add more of these foods to combat seasonal affective disorder.

  7. A healthy diet and nutritious food is definitely needed for healthy mind and body. The more we eat healthy food the more our body gets strong and active. So please don’t stop eating nutrition just because you face Depression. Without how can people even survive? Food is a basic need.

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