The Paleo Diet And Depression Pt. 1

According to the CDC, 1 in 10 Adults are Depressed. Some may argue the number is even higher.

There are many factors in the brain and body which can contribute to depression. From omega-3 deficiency induced depression, to the every day depression caused by modern stressors, finding harmony in this popular condition is a struggle for many.

From the Biomedical Journal discussing depression:

Depression is undoubtedly an extremely complex and heterogeneous condition.

This is reflected by the non-universal results obtained using cognitive-behavior and antidepressant medications.

As research continues to mount, it is becoming clear that neurobiology/physiology, genetics, life stressors, and environmental factors can all contribute to vulnerability to depression.

While much attention has been given to genetics and life stressors, only a small group of international researchers have focused on nutritional influences on depressive symptoms.

How Depression Can Occur

If you recall the podcast episode with P.h.D. Paul Jaminet, the author of The Perfect Health Dietwe discussed the relationship between depression and metabolic disorders. When your body is not functioning properly due to the SAD diet, the natural response is depression.

Our body's depression response to a poor SAD diet is an unconscious and instinctive attempt to prevent us from socializing and being in the presence of others where we would "spread this sickness".

Those with a poor diet may be more reclusive, anxious and anti-social.

Society generally labels these people as "depressed" because of their life struggles, relationships and other external factors. However, by following the menu of foods listed in my ultimate food guide, I am confident that positive personality changes can result.

As time passes, we must continue to look at food as medicine and analyze the relationship between our thought patterns and mood stability.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates

Let's isolate some of the aspects of the SAD that contribute to food related depression.

In a study with rats, major anxiety was the  result of a 3-day diet consisting of soybean oil.

The other group of rats with a diet of fish oil showed far less anxiety than the soybean oil fed rats.

Although depression may have increased in the soybean oil group, scientists stated that the difference in the rats depression is much more difficult to observe and report than anxiety.

Anxiety was directly correlated with the toxic soybean oil consumption.

After removing toxic oils from your diet such as soybean oil, rapeseed and canola oil, cottonseed oil and replacing them with the following, you'll guarantee you're consuming some of the healthiest oils and fats essential for proper fat metabolism.

How to support good moods

Eat Coconut Oil

coconut oil

I use this coconut oil.

One of the most miraculous gifts to the planet is the coconut palm tree. A fun fact is that Palms can survive in many more moderate climates, but the daily temperature has to be 72 degrees for the palms to produce the coconut fruit. 

Coconut oil is approximately 90% saturated fat. Before your health alarm goes off remember this quote from Dr. Mark Hyman: "Fat makes you thin and sugar makes you fat".

Some of the benefits of coconut oil include:

  • Enhanced ability to burn body fat due to the MCT content (Medium Chain Triglyceride is a type of fatty acid that our brain loves for fuel)
  • In a study, Coconut Oil was shown to be anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-killing) and antipyretic (fever-reducing).
  • Another study focused on 118 psychiatric patients. Those that had the highest levels of Lauric Acid (which comprises 50% of coconut oil) in their diet were shown to have the lowest levels of depression.

Eat Grass-fed Meats

In a review journal discussing the differences between conventionally raised, grain-fed meat compared to grass-fed meat, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are vastly different.

Grain-fed meats and the dangers of a high Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio

  • Grain-fed cattle - 8.99
  • Grass-fed cattle - 1.77

What does this mean?

Excessive omega-6 fats in relation to omega-3's in the diet have been linked to inflammation, arthritis and cancer.

Our modern diet is completely overrun with omega-6 fats.

The main culprits of excessive omega-6 fats:

  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Eggs

Pay close attention to your ingredient labels, as the oils listed are slipped into food products you may never imagine.

Evolutionarily, we had an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio close to 1:1.

Now with the introduction of these new oils into the food supply, the average person's ratio is now much closer to a toxic 20:1 ratio.

Easy steps to fixing omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

  • Eliminating all oils in the diet except for coconut oil and cold-pressed olive oil
  • Reduce consumption of conventionally chicken, beef and pork (if it's not labeled pasture-raised, it's not)
  • Liberally eat grass-fed butter, grass-fed meats such as beef and bison
  • Reduce your nuts and seeds intake to one handful every 3 days
  • Supplement with Omega-3, DHA & EPA to reduce the competition with Omega-6 in the brain

You'd be surprised to know that grass-fed beef has just as much omega-3 as wild-caught fish. Due to the concerns of ocean pollution both in the gulf of Mexico and pacific, I recommend sticking to grass-fed beef and bison. You will receive a great amount of naturally occurring omega-3 from these animals.