Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Depression

Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Depression
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If depression can be induced with pro-inflammatory drugs, might an anti-inflammatory diet be effective in preventing and treating mood disorders?

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Depression affects more than 150 million people worldwide, making it a leading cause of losing healthy years of life as a result of disability. In fact, by 2020, depression may be the second leading cause of healthy years of life lost, second only to heart disease. Why is depression so common? Well, it is said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” But, why would we evolve to get depressed?

Depression poses a baffling evolutionary puzzle. It has such negative effects, but remains so common and heritable, meaning a big chunk of risk is passed down through our genes. So, there must be some kind of adaptive benefit. Otherwise, presumably, it would have been naturally selected against. Maybe, depression is an evolutionary strategy for defense against infection.

Infection has been the leading cause of mortality throughout human history. The average life expectancy was 25, and it was not uncommon for half our kids to die. With such stark capabilities, infection has been a critical and potent driving force in natural selection.

When we become infected, there is a surge of inflammation as our body mounts a counterattack, and then what happens? We feel lousy. We feel sick.  We get weak, tired, slow, and sleepy. We don’t see anyone; we don’t want to do anything; all we want to do is sleep. It’s like we’re depressed—and that’s great for fighting infection. Not only does that help us conserve energy so we can put up a good fight, but it reduces social contact. We’re not running around infecting everyone.

It’s the same reason we evolved to think poop doesn’t smell good, or decaying flesh. That keeps us safe from infection. In fact, we see this phenomenon with other social animals, like honeybees and mole rats, who feel impelled to crawl off and die alone when they get sick, which reduces the risk to the rest of the community.

The relationship between mental health and inflammation was first noted in 1887, for which the only psychiatrist to ever win the award got a Nobel Prize. But what evidence have we accumulated in the century since that inflammation causes depression? Well, people who are depressed have raised inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein, and inflammatory illnesses are associated with greater rates of major depression. Indeed, that’s what’s found in a variety of inflammatory conditions including more benign inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and allergies. And, that’s important, suggesting the mood symptoms are not simply ‘feeling bad about having a terrible disease,’ but may be directly tied to the inflammation. Most powerfully, you can actually induce depression by inducing inflammation, like when we give interferon for certain cancers or chronic infections—up to 50% go on to suffer major depression. Even just giving a vaccine can cause enough inflammation to trigger depressive symptoms. Taken together, these studies are strongly suggestive of inflammation being a causative factor of mood symptoms.

So, can an anti-inflammatory diet help prevent depression? We didn’t know, until about 43,000 women without depression were followed, along with their diets, for about a dozen years to see who became depressed, and it was those who ate a more inflammatory dietary pattern, characterized by more soda, refined grains and meat, suggesting that chronic inflammation may underlie the association between diet and depression. Normally, we think of omega-3’s as anti-inflammatory, but they found fish to be pro-inflammatory, associated with increased C-reactive protein levels consistent with recent findings that omega-3’s don’t seem to help with either depression or inflammation. The most anti-inflammatory diet is a plant-based diet, which can cut C-reactive protein levels by 30% within two weeks, perhaps because of the anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants.

I’ve talked about this before, but never explained why antioxidants are anti-inflammatory. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals may cause an autoimmune response in the body by changing the chemical structure of otherwise ubiquitous molecules to generate new structures that the body attacks as foreign. For example, when LDL cholesterol gets oxidized, our body creates antibodies against it and attacks it. And, so, clinical depression can be accompanied by increased oxidative stress and the autoimmune inflammatory responses it creates.

Where else does inflammation come from in our diet? Endotoxins. It’s worth reviewing how the endotoxins in animal products can cause a burst of inflammation within hours of consumption. What does that do to our mood? If you inject endotoxin into people, within a few hours, inflammation shoots up, and so do feelings of depression, as well as feelings of social disconnection from people.

Although previous research has demonstrated that inflammatory activity contributes to depressive symptoms, no work in humans has examined the effect of experimentally induced inflammation on anhedonia, the lack of reaction to pleasurable stimuli, a key diagnostic feature of depression.  No work has been done, that is, until now.  Within hours of endotoxin hitting their bloodstream, these experimental subjects not only started to feel depressed, but they had significant reductions in activity in the reward center of the brain. They were less excited about winning money playing video games, for example, in the study.

But by eliminating animal products, and eating antioxidant rich diets, we may be able to prevent or treat depression.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Ars Electronica via Flickr.

Depression affects more than 150 million people worldwide, making it a leading cause of losing healthy years of life as a result of disability. In fact, by 2020, depression may be the second leading cause of healthy years of life lost, second only to heart disease. Why is depression so common? Well, it is said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” But, why would we evolve to get depressed?

Depression poses a baffling evolutionary puzzle. It has such negative effects, but remains so common and heritable, meaning a big chunk of risk is passed down through our genes. So, there must be some kind of adaptive benefit. Otherwise, presumably, it would have been naturally selected against. Maybe, depression is an evolutionary strategy for defense against infection.

Infection has been the leading cause of mortality throughout human history. The average life expectancy was 25, and it was not uncommon for half our kids to die. With such stark capabilities, infection has been a critical and potent driving force in natural selection.

When we become infected, there is a surge of inflammation as our body mounts a counterattack, and then what happens? We feel lousy. We feel sick.  We get weak, tired, slow, and sleepy. We don’t see anyone; we don’t want to do anything; all we want to do is sleep. It’s like we’re depressed—and that’s great for fighting infection. Not only does that help us conserve energy so we can put up a good fight, but it reduces social contact. We’re not running around infecting everyone.

It’s the same reason we evolved to think poop doesn’t smell good, or decaying flesh. That keeps us safe from infection. In fact, we see this phenomenon with other social animals, like honeybees and mole rats, who feel impelled to crawl off and die alone when they get sick, which reduces the risk to the rest of the community.

The relationship between mental health and inflammation was first noted in 1887, for which the only psychiatrist to ever win the award got a Nobel Prize. But what evidence have we accumulated in the century since that inflammation causes depression? Well, people who are depressed have raised inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein, and inflammatory illnesses are associated with greater rates of major depression. Indeed, that’s what’s found in a variety of inflammatory conditions including more benign inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and allergies. And, that’s important, suggesting the mood symptoms are not simply ‘feeling bad about having a terrible disease,’ but may be directly tied to the inflammation. Most powerfully, you can actually induce depression by inducing inflammation, like when we give interferon for certain cancers or chronic infections—up to 50% go on to suffer major depression. Even just giving a vaccine can cause enough inflammation to trigger depressive symptoms. Taken together, these studies are strongly suggestive of inflammation being a causative factor of mood symptoms.

So, can an anti-inflammatory diet help prevent depression? We didn’t know, until about 43,000 women without depression were followed, along with their diets, for about a dozen years to see who became depressed, and it was those who ate a more inflammatory dietary pattern, characterized by more soda, refined grains and meat, suggesting that chronic inflammation may underlie the association between diet and depression. Normally, we think of omega-3’s as anti-inflammatory, but they found fish to be pro-inflammatory, associated with increased C-reactive protein levels consistent with recent findings that omega-3’s don’t seem to help with either depression or inflammation. The most anti-inflammatory diet is a plant-based diet, which can cut C-reactive protein levels by 30% within two weeks, perhaps because of the anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants.

I’ve talked about this before, but never explained why antioxidants are anti-inflammatory. Oxidative damage caused by free radicals may cause an autoimmune response in the body by changing the chemical structure of otherwise ubiquitous molecules to generate new structures that the body attacks as foreign. For example, when LDL cholesterol gets oxidized, our body creates antibodies against it and attacks it. And, so, clinical depression can be accompanied by increased oxidative stress and the autoimmune inflammatory responses it creates.

Where else does inflammation come from in our diet? Endotoxins. It’s worth reviewing how the endotoxins in animal products can cause a burst of inflammation within hours of consumption. What does that do to our mood? If you inject endotoxin into people, within a few hours, inflammation shoots up, and so do feelings of depression, as well as feelings of social disconnection from people.

Although previous research has demonstrated that inflammatory activity contributes to depressive symptoms, no work in humans has examined the effect of experimentally induced inflammation on anhedonia, the lack of reaction to pleasurable stimuli, a key diagnostic feature of depression.  No work has been done, that is, until now.  Within hours of endotoxin hitting their bloodstream, these experimental subjects not only started to feel depressed, but they had significant reductions in activity in the reward center of the brain. They were less excited about winning money playing video games, for example, in the study.

But by eliminating animal products, and eating antioxidant rich diets, we may be able to prevent or treat depression.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Ars Electronica via Flickr.

212 responses to “Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Depression

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  1. Thanks so much for your video! I am in my mid 20th and have suffered from dysthymia, chronic headaches, akne and constipation for many years. I am plant based following your advice for about a year now. I can see some improvement in my symptoms, my digestion is better and my mood is more stable. But I still have to deal with constent pain and the inability to truely feel happy. Doing sports like running seem to further reduce the pain but I hoped for better results. How long do you think it will take my body to recover from inflammation and whatever else is going on? Will I ever recover?

      1. I have great friends, a wonderfull relationship with my boy friend and a supportive family. I am however prone to anxiety and chronic stress, this also runs in my family, so there could be just mental problems involved. But my main concern are my chronic headaches. Hormonal imbalance is also part of this, I took birth control for a few months and it made every single problem worse, my hormonal cycle is still messed up over a year later.

      1. A very important point to add is if you are going to take the very expensive probiotics you MUST eat a high Fiber whole plant food meal immediately. The Probiotics need insoluble plant fiber to survive and if you do not eat a meal as I just discussed within 20-30 minutes the Probiotics die and you just excrete them (expensive shit it is–Oh, I’m talking about the cost of probiotics these days ;-).

        Prebiotics are a cheaper route and here’s a great video by Dr. Greger from just a couple weeks ago regarding this fascinating research: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prebiotics-tending-our-inner-garden/

        The healthiest guts are guts that are fed high plant fiber foods. This is known as your microbiome and is now at the forefront of medicine about how to keep yourself the healthiest by having the healthiest microbiome. Interestingly we have about 30 Trillion cells that make us up but about 300 Trillion bacteria on and in our bodies with the majority in our gut–That’s ten times more bacteria then cells! That’s fascinating to me. It’s interesting to envision that we are really just big bags of bacteria walking around shedding our microbiota all over the place. Here’s a good and fun resource from one of the leading Gastrointestinal doctors today, Dr. Robynne Chutkan. http://www.gutbliss.com/

        I hope this helps.

        1. Great, money-saving post Dr. Hemo. I’ve come to think of us as walking, talking coral reefs supporting all manner of life forms that support us right back.

          Regarding Dr. Chutkan, I’d like to propose a brand new social meme. The next time we’re around someone who sneezes, instead of saying ‘that phrase’ we are all conditioned somehow to say, we say, “Gut Bliss You!”

        2. I recommend making soy yogurt using probiotic capsules as your starter. This is a very inexpensive way to amplify the value of capsules, which, as pointed out, are not cheap. The yogurt is every bit as tasty as store-bought, and the organisms in the probiotic caps are in many cases the same species as are found in commercial yogurt.

            1. I use NOW brand, because it was listed by labdoor.com (https://labdoor.com/rankings/probiotics) as among the best in terms both of value and quality. It contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria, although I have read elsewhere that only 6 strains are able to survive digestion (some brands have as many as 15 strains, and it is tempting to think that more is better). As for success, I would say that my gut health (including regularity) has improved very noticeably since including a cup of home made probiotic yogurt in my daily green smoothie.

          1. I have only tried 2 brands of soy yogurt and found both to taste just incredibly nasty. (Sorry, can’t remember the brands.) Any recommendations?

            1. SeedyCharacter: Can’t recommend any brands. Recommendation is to “grow your own.” It’s incredibly easy once you get the hang of it. Use a plain, unsweetened, unflavored soy milk (ingredients: water, soy beans) like WestSoy, or better still, make your own soy milk with a soy milk maker, like SoyaJoy. Good luck!

              1. Thanks, plant this thought. Back in the 80’s I used to make cow’s milk yogurt every week. But I’ll start experimenting with soy and/or coconut milk yogurts and see how they come out.

                1. SeedyCharacter: I think it is cool that you used to make your own yogurt. I thougth I would mention that Miyoko has a yogurt recipe in her Artisan Vegan Cheese book. Also, the latest “Instant Pot” pressure cooker has a yogurt maker function. I haven’t tried using it, but I like the idea that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting the perfect temperature. The machine would take care of that for me. Just some ideas for you. I hope it works out!

                2. I buy my cultures for soy and other plant yogurts from culturesforhealth.com. Each little packet makes 1/2 gallon. Since my yogurt maker only holds a quart I tested my oven with a thermometer and discovered I can set it slightly higher than the lowest setting and it will hold the right temperature for making yogurt! They claim you can’t make a new batch with a start from an old batch, and I haven’t tried it. Nor have I tried making it using the contents of a probiotic capsule, but it would probably be worth experimenting with both.

              2. You need to keep it warm, about 110 Fahrenheit. Not hot enough to kill the bacteria, but not cold. Yogurt bacteria like it warm, and they do not like oxygen, as they are anaerobic. So while you ferment the soy yogurt, you need to keep it warm and tightly covered. Also consider water kefir, which is a vegan probiotic drink made from sugar water and fruits. It is delicious, and it ferments at room temperature so you don’t need to keep it warm. As well, you can make all kinds of naturally fermented meals from vegetables. The website culturesforhealth.com has extensive tutorials for making these foods. Using your probiotic capsules to make fermented drinks and foods, you are massively increasing the numbers of the bacteria, as you are growing them at home. As well, the body assimilates the bacteria much better when they are found in foods rather than isolated in capsules. Donna Schwenk discusses this in her book on making fermented foods at home.

            2. SeedyCharacter: For what it’s worth, I’ve had the same experience with soy yogurts. But I’ve had good taste experiences with coconut yogurts.

                1. :-) Love your motivation.

                  My thoughts are: In the end, you might be happiest creating your own, using one of the bought brands as starters. If you do end up making your own, I hope you will report back to us. I’m very interested. Yogurt has never been my favorite no matter what it was made out of. But as I get older, I’m finding more interest in the stuff. Plus, I like to know how to help people as this question has come up several times.

                  1. I add so much “stuff” to my yogurt, one would think it wouldn’t even matter what type of yogurt it is. For example, today I added: my seed mix (hemp/chia/flax/sesame/oatbran/sunflower) + cranberry sauce + blueberries + pear + dried coconut flakes + brazil nut. I love all of the textures and flavors of the mix. (I prefer this melange to blended smoothies since I am such a crunchy hippie. LOL.)

                    1. I like crunch, too! I put my soy yogurt on top of a mix of good stuff, including a bit of granola, flax meal, berries, sunflower seeds or nuts. It’s rare for me to simply eat yogurt by itself.

          2. Do you have a recipe? This is a bit off-topic, but I love soy yogurt but the only unsweetened one I can find comes in small servings and I HATE all the wasted plastic! Have you tried cashew yogurt?

            1. I use Kirkland unsweetened soy milk from Costco, but any unsweetened soy milk will do. Most plain commercial soy milks contain small amounts of sugar and salt. These are necessary for the bacteria to grow. If the plain soy milk you use does not contain any sugar and salt (e.g., Westbrae), you will need to add them.

              Soy milk is sterile when the container is opened, so there is no need to pasteurize it, as one needs to do with cow’s milk. The fermenting vessel, however, does need to be sterilized somehow. Add the starter (or a probiotic capsule) and stir it in well.

              I use an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, which has a Yogurt setting, and ferment for 12 hours. I use 3 liters of soy milk per batch.

              I have never tried using cashew milk. As I understand it, commercial nut milks contain less nut substance than most people realize. That is why I have steered clear of these.

              Making soy yogurt is incredibly easy and cheap (3 liters = $3). I hope you have success.

        3. One way to do this is to make your own sauerkraut. Then you get high fiber plant foods and probiotics. It’s easy and super cheap. You don’t have to worry about how long the pills have been waiting or if they are really the right thing. Also, many plants that Dr. Greger recommends, like beets, garlic, amla, bitter melon and all cruciferous vegetables are great in sauerkraut. In my opinion, it changes them from reasonably ok tasting to delicious!
          John S

        4. While we do need to feed our gut bacteria with lots of dietary fiber and phytonutrients, ingesting probiotics from food or supplements is highly beneficial. From the book Digestive Wellness (page 56). “Our two most important groups of intestinal flora are the lactobacilli, found mainly in the small intestine, and bifidobacteria, found primarily in the colon. Neither species is native to our digestive tract, but we can consume them in cultured foods or in supplements, and they “vacation” in us for up to 12 days in a a mutually beneficial relationship. While on vacation they shore up the local economy like all good tourists. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria excrete large amounts of acetic, formic, and lactic acid, which makes the intestinal environment inhospitable to invading microbes .”

          1. This is helpful to know. I didn’t know that lacto- and bifido- are not native and that they are time-limited if not reindroduced regularly through diet.

        5. I’m gonna “volunteer” my enthusiastic opinion that people need to get back to doing traditional lacto-ferments and other ferments, to get a complementary and cheap source of probiotic, yummy goodness! I actually hated the taste of them at first, but it has become kind of an addiction…my body craves the stuff! Not only does my gut suffer if I deny it, but my whole body, and MIND! Freaky stuff!

          1. I know! I get excited when I’m about to eat the stuff! It’s an amazing phenomenon, this symbiosis. These little critters have a way of making us feel good and helping us stay healthy while we give them a place to live. It makes you wonder who’s in charge. (Or maybe we are, in fact, one organism!)

            1. Glad I’m not the only one that feels this way! It really is pretty cool! I am kinda bummed Dr G seems kinda unenthusiastic about it when my experience and so many others have been amazing! I think a lot more peeps could benefit too if instead of taking wimpy and ineffective probiotic pills (often useless and dead from the ones I’ve tested) they should try to make the real deal! (without overloading it with salt like some of the commercial stuff!) People have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years to preserve food, in less than sanitary conditions, it really is so safe! If something does goes wrong, it will be BLATANTLY obvious…I’ve seen pics, but I can’t even TRY to make it happen! It’s the easiest, most natural, no fuss, and safest method to take advantage of to prepare a bounty of whole food! It predigests and breaks down even some harmful components and toxins, makes nutrients more readily available besides adding beneficial microbes for our tummies…it’s like magic! LOL!

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbX9Nv9OtGM Donna’s story, love it!

              1. It’s fascinating that the same property that makes beneficial bacteria good at preserving food also makes them good for gut health, namely, they chase out the bad bacteria.

        6. Thanks HD Doc . I have been on expensive probiotics and DO feel they work on mood – especially since mine contain Ashwaganda…. Over all I have felt good and they have even seemed to help some blood sugar issues. I have been taking them after breakfast lately, which from your standpoint sounds like the wrong time to take them.. I will now switch to before I eat my meals. Since being a vegan I assume pretty much all my meals are high fiber.
          Thanks again doc

      1. What grass is to a cow, fruit is to a human. 1 fruit meal a day will bring even better long term results. Just take small steps. There is ALWAYS more room for little improvement.

    1. Hi. It is hard to say exactly what’s going on. Some of Dr. Greger’s videos on the topic may help? Foods like ginger, lavender, and hot sauce may help reduce headaches. Dairy products may be associated with acne so you could try removing from the diet for a bit to see if symptoms come down if you have not done so already. I am not sure where in your stomach or why you are experiencing pain, and I cannot say exactly why you don’t feel truly happy. I am so sorry it’s always a bummer when we are not 100% happy. And everyone deserves happiness. It seems like you are doing everything right, adding more plant-based foods to the diet, and exercising. That will go a long way, as lifestyle factors have been shown to affect mood. Keep up the good work! Check out everyone’s support and comments below. NutritionFacts is a great community of folks that offer some great advice.

      .

      1. I searched through all of Dr. Gregers videos and it helped a lot. The pain is mainly headaches and migrains in my forhead. The tip with drinking powdered ginger did not work for me, I use peppermint oil which helps a little. I also enjoy eating spicy food and I guess it helps in the moment. I cut out dairy already and eat mainly fruits, vegetables and starches. I will definitly continue since I am convinced this can only be beneficial for my overall health.

        1. I’m a big fan of a WFPB diet for many reasons. You might also consider genetic testing and interpretation through a site like Livewello. Certain genetic variations seem to predispose people to headaches and migraines. This field is in its infancy but for some conditions, it seems safe and easy to try the nutritional recommendations made by the practitioners in the field. I don’t have any financial relationship with any genetics company, I’ve just been curious about it. Here’s an excerpt from something I received from Livewello recently:

          Migraine is a chronic disabling condition that may in part be caused by disruption in the lining of blood vessels in the brain, induced by elevated homocysteine levels. . . . In one study2, supplementation with B-vitamins and folic acid reduced homocysteine by 39% and reduced the prevalence of migraine disability by 50%. Headache frequency and pain severity were also reduced. This effect on both homocysteine levels and migraine disability was associated with MTHFR C677T or MTRR genotypes. [1, 2]

    2. I became a new person when I went high carb mostly raw vegan. It definitely had an adjustment period coming from low carb but was so so worth it. My mood was so much better and even now I’ve had to take out the overt fats out my diet that I thought was doing me good but has really been messing up my energy and mood. I feel best when eating what I want of fruits and high carb plant foods to keep my blood sugar stable. Fairly low protein too, but it’s easier to assess the foods that aren’t optimal when you’ve got most of it right. And I feel amazing most days so don’t give up! Try different things, imo 80/10/10 is the best place to start and then be intuitive with what’s most comfortable from there. Majoring on raw fruit (limit dried) and some veg has also massively helped my compulsive overeating. Only thing that’s worked

    3. Student, I think the best answer for you is yes you are improving but there may be something else going on. I feel you need to seek out a physician/provider that is supportive of the lifestyle change and who is willing to perform some lab tests to see what may be going on with you.

      Some of the first line labs I check on people are, CBC (complete blood count that looks at your Red and White blood cells and your Hemoglobin–we check to see if you are anemic or for immune abnormalities), CMP (Complete metabolic Panel that looks at Kidney and liver function but also electrolytes and Calcium), TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone to check whether HYPER or HYPO thyroid and your thyroid regulates your bodies metabolism), CRP (C-Reactive Protein a non-specific Inflammatory marker), Sed Rate (another non-specific inflammatory marker), Homocysteine (high Homocysteine is inflammatory and indicates inadequate B12/Folate/B6 levels, Vitamin D (It’s really a steroid hormone made from cholesterol and very low levels can cause some of your symptoms) and Testosterone (assuming you’re male–low levels can cause your symptoms as well).

      Your food intake is the most important activity you can undertake to allow your body to heal but when difficult cases arise it takes an experienced provider to investigate what could be causing your symptoms and to take appropriate action.

      One thing I tell people I meet or that I see in immersion programs is that when you go back home and would like to continue this lifestyle call around to your local doctors offices and ask the receptionist if they have any docs that work there that they know are Vegan or Vegetarian. They will know if there are one of those types of doctors around because it is a big deal to have a doc who eats Vegan. If there are, see if you can get into see them and to have them evaluate you. If the first office doesn’t work try others.

      Don’t give up because you are worth it!

      1. Thanks so much for your support! I did not find a vegan friendly doctor yet. I am female and I have some hormonal imbalance going on, too, since I took birth control over one and a half years ago. It made everything much worse, suicidal thoughts that I don’t have anymore, random crying for no reason, worst headaches of my life, constipation, my skin got also worse and I lost my libido. I got my thyroid tested and my iron, that’s fine. I am taking B12 and Vitamin D supplements. They tested my blood because of stomach pain but found nothing (liver is doing well, blood cells are normal) but one of the inflammatory markers were higher than normal, they also found some protein in my urine. I took medication for half a year to reduce headaches but the side effects were too much. I also got MRT for my head to make sure I am fine. They found nothing of course. All in all every doctor I see is just confused but I know something is wrong.

      2. I also experienced hair loss and my scalp hurts even though the skin looks normal. I am always tired and everything is exhausting, before I went plant based my muscles were weak and I felt like falling when walking down stairs. Nontheless doctors think I am healthy. Some laughed at me, nobody seems really interested.

        1. Hi Student. I walked around feeling completely exhausted for about a year thanks to low ferritin levels. CBC test alone will rule out anemia but it doesn’t test for your iron storage levels. Most doctors don’t test your ferritin levels, they only look for anemia by CBC. You can go to the doctor and get this done, or just try taking some iron sulfate pills (35 mg) for about a week. I felt better in less time than that. Just make sure you get testing for ferritin done eventually, it’s not a good idea to take extra iron if you don’t need it. You need iron to make dopamine and ATP in addition to what is used by hemoglobin in your RBCs. There are published studies showing that low ferritin levels alone will leave women feeling tired, in addition to contributing to restless leg syndrome. Would be a good topic for the video series.

    4. I want to reply to this personally. I have struggled with back pain strongly since I was 13 years old. Very severe back pain. In my late twenties, I got tendonitis in my ankle. I think I had an Iodine deficiency. Iodine is the largest or biggest or heaviest element used by the human body. It seems to be a natural pain blocker. If you look at morphine or even aspirin, these appear to be compounds that mimic the atom Iodine in the body. When I started myself on Iodine, either from seaweed or from table salt or from supplements, my pain went away. Have you stayed clear of Iodized salt, thinking its too salty? Can you not even stand a little bit of salt? You probably are nursing an Iodine deficiency. Do you have tasters choice to Iodized salt? Tasters choice being a term for a food that you have to put down because of a component? Common foods like this being tea, coffee, beer, soybeans, table salt, peanuts and other foods common being related to allergies? BEWARE. On Iodine supplements my heartbeat disappeared. I think your thyroid makes your heartbeat LOUDLY in order to clean Iodine, which gets magnetized and compounded into thyroid hormones. They are up to T4. The pressure and heat in your heart can keep your Iodine clean. With a clean source of Iodine, you don’t need to feel your heartbeat, and so it vanishes. This post is in my opinion only. Other people discussing Iodine on the internet have mentioned how there heartbeat vanished or they experience miraculous like joy. You can research Iodine supplementation for yourself. Chronic pain was, in my opinion, a consequence of Iodine deficiency.

      1. What do you mean by your heartbeat vanished? I have no allergies and I eat iodized salt as much as I like to make my food tasty. I feel like my heartbeat is always loud and I can feel it, can count the beats per minute just by being quiet. I was never sure whether that is normal or not. What is a clean source? Should I not eat iodized salt, peanut butter, coffee etc.? Sorry, English is not my native language.

        1. I have been treating health problems with vitamins. I realized I had not had Iodine in a while. I had been eating one or two sheets of Nori for a month for its cancer benefits. After just one day’s worth of Iodine from table salt, I could no longer feel my heartbeat. I could feel my heartbeat in my chest for all my life. Is it normal to feel your heartbeat? Doctors say it is not ideal. Normal, though. Your body levels of Iodine might be directly related to the intensity with which you feel your heartbeat. You can count your heart beats just by feeling it in your chest? Wow.

    5. Hello Student. At the outset I want to emphasize this is a peer-to-peer posting; I am not a professional. That said, I re-read your post and a thought occurred to me: the very first complaint you mentioned was dysthymia and I had this feeling that because you mentioned this first, perhaps it is what is weighing most heavily on your mind. Most of the comments have been food-centric, and that is all well and good and helpful. What I would like to address is your mood and ‘inability to truly feel happy.’

      I happen to have some personal experience with something called ‘Young’s Schema Therapy.’ (Those were very dark days and I will not say anything further about that except that I got through them. And it was a struggle, but worth the effort.) Inasmuch as we are talking about ‘non-traditional’ yet evidence-based approaches to diet lifestyles in this forum, Dr. Young provides a paradigm-shifting approach to psychotherapy that eschews the traditional Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) laundry list (billing code and drug target list really, but I digress) approach to psychological counseling. For the layperson, he talks about ‘lifetraps’ which are, in essence, maladaptive coping methods that were helpful if not lifesaving when we were young, but when brought into adult life and applied to adult problems, well, they backfire on us and do more harm than good, causing us to have difficulties dealing with adult people and situations. He has a book called ‘Reinventing Your Life’ that lays it all out. I highly recommend that you read it; I know you will find yourself in there somewhere and may help you to alter your mental trajectory while you are working with food and such to address your physical health.
      http://www.amazon.com/Reinventing-Your-Life-Breakthrough-Negative/dp/0452272041

      There is another well known approach to psychological counseling called ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’ that could be beneficial. Please seek out and read Dr. Burns honest, compassionate and insightful book ‘ Feeling Good.” His writing style is very inviting and you feel as though he is talking to you personally as he gently draws you in and gudes you around the contours of your inner world of self-talk, feelings and emotions. You will have a friend with you when you read this book.
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0380810336/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1944687662&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0452272041&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1CX9E7HWPDJYT0G7YPBC

      Finally, I want to say there is no shame in seeking out and engaging in a process of psychological counseling. You are a young adult with your whole life in front of you. Please don’t hesitate to seek out and find a counselor who may help you see yourself and others in a better light that will help you feel a whole lot better and will help you develop adaptive coping skills that will reduce your chances of falling in to a funk when you roll past the inevitable speed bumps of normal daily life. All the best.

      1. Thanks for your advice! I am studying psychology and I have read about these types of therapy. My main concern however are chronic headaches, mood is second but also very important to my health I think. I saw a psychotherapist for a year but I think he did not get what’s wrong with me. I might try seeing someone else but right now I don’t feel ready.

        1. Student, It’s common to not have a “fit” with a psychotherapist. As a psychotherapist myself, I recommend that folks spend a little time talking with a few prospective therapists on the phone (that’s usually free) and getting a feel for them before you even schedule a first session. There are not many integrative psychotherapists or psychiatrists, sad to say, though there are a few universities offering courses in nutritional psychology. Hopefully the field will grow. Best of luck.
          P.S. If you’re studying psychology, you might enjoy following my FB page: “Deb Abbott Psychotherapy” I post a range of interesting articles, including some from NF.org, of course!

    6. Just a reminder – happiness is the accumulative effect of our “bio-psycho-social-spiritual” well being. In addition to an excellent diet and exercise, one needs to pay attention to psychology, social support and connectedness, and for many – spiritual health. You may need to speak with a therapist who can help you understand your life experiences, the way your perceive yourself, unconscious schemas and thoughts etc. Finally, from a Buddhist perspective, happiness and satisfaction can be close linked to our desires, expectations, and attachments. I think it may be difficult at this time to find therapists and psychiatrists who are aware and practice this themselves… However, there are many books available online and time spent with any well-trained therapist will likely not be wasted effort.

    7. Solange Milan, MFT, DAPA

      Because so many of us these days are actually dehydrated, I suggest THE WATER PRESCRIPTION by Christopher Vasey, N.D. Body aches and muscle cramping, exhaustion and sleep difficulties, lack of vitality and depression, inflammation and over-acidity, headaches and bad breath — the list of symptoms goes on and on. I speak not only from researching the subject, but also as one who suffered for over a year with several consequences of insufficient WATER intake. We’re speaking about the necessity of pure water, not juice, not tea, not other beverages–these have benefits, but come after you provide your body’s needs for water. You could also look at YOUR BODY’S MANY CRIES FOR WATER by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. who devoted his life to opening the world’s eyes to this most fundamental human need.
      I believe you’ll be as shocked as I was at the difference in your body when it is sufficiently hydrated.
      Best of luck!

    8. In his book Eat to Live Dr Joel Fuhrman gives a specific vegan diet plan for headache /migraine sufferers. page 202. You might want to try that?

  2. There is certainly research which seems to support this conclusion.For example,
    “Thirty-nine omnivores were randomly assigned to a control group consuming meat, fish, and poultry daily (OMN); a group consuming fish 3-4 times weekly but avoiding meat and poultry (FISH), or a vegetarian group avoiding meat, fish, and poultry (VEG). At baseline and after two weeks, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, the Profile of Mood States questionnaire and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales. After the diet intervention, VEG participants reduced their EPA, DHA, and AA intakes, while FISH participants increased their EPA and DHA intakes. Mood scores were unchanged for OMN or FISH participants, but several mood scores for VEG participants improved significantly after two weeks.”
    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/11/1/9

    Now that study only refers to mood rather than full-blown clinical depression but it is consistent with the hypothesis. Observational studies may find a higher association between vegetarian diets and depression but the diagnosis of depression often precedes the adoption of a vegetarian diet. This makes sense since many people appear to adopt vegetarianism following the emergence of significant health problems.

    1. Thank you so much for your post. The second study you found and posted here said that many people go vegetarian to treat a mental illness. In other words, among vegetarians and vegans mental illness is common, perhaps, because they are using it to treat their disorder. Dr. Greger suggest the vegetarian diet does improve mood. I am so happy I found this out, that diet is linked to mood. I am so happy I found Orthomolecular medicine. They use vitamins to treat illness. I put “Schizophrenia vitamins” into google and found an article about the use of Niacin in Schizophrenia. The similarity between Schizophrenia and pellagra, a Niacin deficiency, is striking, and may be identical for some. Some orthomolecular doctors use Niacin, tryptophan, and Saint Johns’ wort to treat depression. I am not sure being vegetarian is the absolute best tool to treat mental illness, perhaps, because all grains are processed and have the Niacin removed. Psychiatrists have long thought mental illness was related to a chemical imbalance, specifically dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin is made from tryptophan, which is also made into Niacin. Perhaps adding more tryptophan could improve mood. Perhaps emotional illness is related to a deficiency of Nitrogen, because the APA said Niacin and NADH are not cures to Schizophrenia. I would ask how many of the bright people here are here because of mental illness, since the article says so many of vegetarians and vegans had a previous mental health disorder. It could just be a Niacin deficiency. http://www.orthomolecularvitamincentre.com/mooddisorders.php Niacin is very good for health and longevity.

      1. Thanks Mathew. However, I doubt whether mental illness is a single illness with a single cause like niacin deficiency. Niacin may well be important but it’s probable that the aetiology of mental illness is complex and that there are various types of mental illness and multiple factors are involved.
        As for niacin, it’s my understanding that there is niacin even in refined grains and weight for weight you’ll get more niacin from a bowl of oatmeal than you will from beef.
        http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000110000000000000000-1w.html?

        1. Thank you. You had liver damage from Niacin? The Mayo Clinic proved in 1985 that this is impossible with several sophisticated bio-assays. The Biomedcentral article does not mention liver damage. It can raise liver tests, though, but this is thought to be from normal liver function (your liver has to make less cholesterol and triglycerides when on Niacin). I am on two grams of Niacin a day and my world has improved without bounds.

          1. I believe so. Statins were prescribed for me a long time ago but the doctor discontinued them because of liver damage. I then tried niacin after going off the statins for a couple of months but the liver symptoms returned … and then ceased after I stopped taking the niacin.

            I didn’t have a formal diagnosis of liver damage after taking niacin because I simply stopped taking the niacin – so you may be right. However, Medline states that liver damage is a possible side effect of high dose niacin. I wasn’t on a high dose but I may be particularly sensitive and also the previous statin-induced liver damage may also have made my liver vulnerable.
            https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/924.html

            Of course, there is always a degree of individual variability in people’s reactions to drugs and foods …. most people can tolerate statins pretty well for example, but I can’t. Anyway, I am glad to hear that you are doing well on niacin.

          1. Thank you! Oh goodness Niacin is great. I like the flush. I like having better eyesight. I love my perfect blood cholesterol. Thank you!

      1. Interesting take. And thanks for sharing that link. I have heard that avoiding gluten can actually damage our health. From this video: ” a month on a gluten-free diet may hurt our gut flora and immune function, potentially setting those on gluten-free diets up for an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in their intestines. Why? Because, ironically, of the beneficial effects of the very components wheat sensitive people have problems with—like the FODMAP fructans that act as prebiotics and feed our good bacteria, or the gluten itself, which may boost immune function. Less than a week of added gluten protein significantly increased natural killer cell activity, which could be expected to improve our body’s ability to fight cancer and viral infections. High gluten bread improves triglyceride levels better than regular gluten bread, as another example.”

        I do not think gluten in itself is an inflammatory food, therefore it would not seem to play a role in depression. “For literally more than 99% of people, gluten/seitan/wheat protein is good for you. Excellent source of high quality protein, the very staff of life.” Of course, if someone has celiac disease don’t touch gluten with a ten-foot pole!

        1. “High gluten bread improves triglyceride levels better than regular gluten bread, as another example.”

          How can we tell if Ezechiel bread is high or “just” regular?

          1. I am not sure. It certainly has gluten but I am not sure if they add more. Ezekiel bread is pretty natural and uses sprouted grains. It’s a healthful choice for sure and much better than white bread.

        2. Well, I saw somewhere that even up to 5% of people may be gluten sensitive (some people more, some less sensitive).

          Gluten sensitivity is what took 13 years of my life (causing arthritis, neuropathy and other strange problems that I could – after years of investigation – trace back to gluten sensitivity) but for the last few months I am getting gradually better so maybe not many more years will be wasted.

          I developed sensitivities for other things: meat, milk, oranges, garlic…

          I did not test positive for any routine celiac disease markers only the so-called delayed response antibodies (whatever that means). The important thing is that I get worse immediately after ingestion of gluten and get better when I eliminate it from my diet – however it takes a month or two for my condition to improve.

          I don’t understand/disagree with the statement that increasing natural killer cell activity is a good thing. This means that gluten is an immune stimulant and it can possibly stimulate the natural killer cells so that autoagression develops…

          All of that is so difficult to diagnose and put in one picture… that’s why it is always good to try gluten-free diet even if the tests do not show positive results.

          1. I totally agree with you, Mick. Your experience is not uncommon. Anyone with any symptoms that don’t improve with regular treatments should try omitting gluten from their diet for at least 30 days. Gluten sensitivity/celiac testing is still in its infancy and the elimination diet is often the best way to diagnose. Even completely healthy people may be surprised how great they feel omitting gluten from their diet.

        3. well not only 1 % have problems with gluten as the ones that have celiac disease also people with some degree of gluten intolerance may have some problems too.

          I now about the NK cell and how good are they with cancer But how bad some defense are with allergies.. so i wonder how good may be this rise in NK cell when we take gluten if we talk about autoimmune diseases. and gluten apparently it is associated by quite a few studies with autoimmune diseases. doesn’t mean gluten is bad. but may be not good for every body.

        4. If people replace whole wheat products with junk gluten free foods, yeah their health will suffer. Substitute whole wheat products with pseudograins like quinoa & buckwheat, as well as starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and squash and the good bacteria have plenty of fiber to munch on and flourish.
          In fact new research suggests that gluten causes leaky gut in EVERYONE. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/273156188_Effect_of_Gliadin_on_Permeability_of_Intestinal_Biopsy_Explants_from_Celiac_Disease_Patients_and_Patients_with_Non-Celiac_Gluten_Sensitivity

        5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26566646
          Indeed, Natural Killer it is related with the Trigger (TPO and tg antibodies) of Hashimoto´s disease. so this increase In NK sell after Gluten ingestion may be part of the autoimmune response attacking the thyroids.

          thats supports the idea that a Gluten free diet may help people with Hypothyroidism (90 percent of Hypothyroidism is related with Hashimoto´s disease)
          “NK cells in HT patients significantly correlates with TPO and Tg Ab levels.”

  3. and if you can cover the autoinmune disease of hashimoto related with inflammation in the Gut that 2% (6 million people) of americans is affected and is the main cause for Hypothyroidism. a disease that cause depression and may be improved with Nutrition.
    My girlfriend have it and at the moment we are eating whole food plant based diet plus Gluten Free and some selenium from brazil nuts.. but i will really appreciate comments on this.
    especially Hashimoto’s disease and how to Lower the Antibodies Levels TPO that are attacking the thyroid glands, (traditional medicine just replace the T4 but don’t treat the cause of the problem of autoimmune reaction and inflammation)
    in her also it is correlate with inflammation of the gut maybe product of a Leaky gut but we are following in detail the wfpbd and exercise etc.
    one theory says that gliadin from gluten it is at molecular level very similar to the cells of the thyroids and that’s what the body attack the thyroid.. something that’s sounds similar to what i hear in nutrition facts on Arthritis rheumatoid and animal products

    1. Watch out for corn. It causes me depression. I”m not kidding. So does white rice, soy and most omega 3-rich seeds and nuts (flax, chia, etc.)

      1. thank you i hear about cros reactive foods that contain quite similar components than gliadin and one of those is CORN But Omega 3 rich foods? do you know way? i never heard about it.

      1. just my girlfriend have hashimoto’s with a proper diagnosis form her doc she have high levels of autoantibodies
        to thyroglobulin (Tg) and thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antigens. and all the symptoms of low levels of the thyroid hormone even with a T4 at normal levels, but is missing the T3 Exam that some times is more accurate.

    2. Hi Noe. I may have posted this before, but a good answer by Dr. Forrester on gluten and auto-immune disease can be found here. There is one paper that mentions how celiac disease and gluten-sensitive folks are at greater risk for auto-immune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease. There is no major risk in trying a gluten-free diet for a month to see what helps. it sounds like you tried that, but have you noticed a difference? It’s never a good idea to self diagnose it though, so I suggest first seeing if that is an option and get tested for celiac disease. Leaky gut can be an issue. but it’s usually involved with animal products, not wheat. Again, those with celiac disease who eat gluten can induce all sorts of dangerous gut health risks!

      1. thank you Joseph! , i really apreciate your answer. if something i don’t whant now is to fail into a folk. thats way a really like NF !
        but i understund from the link you have share http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026392 that it is a stron correlation between people with nonceliac wheat sensitivity to hashimoto´s deseases.
        the symptom from Hypothyroidism have last for almost a year but it was diagnosed just a month ago, i have read that some antibodies last 6 month after the last Gluten intake , so take long to see the difference. but she was properly diagnose by a doctor and a blood test. what we did not did yet is the celiac test, that we are going to ask now. but i heard is that test some times is negative but still the patient still Gluten (or wheat) sensitivity..( i have a friend in this situation) some researches mention that.

        but to flush away folks do you know if the Gliadin it is similar to the cells of the thyroids? if it is the case and one have anti gliadin antibodies it is not very illogical that may be attacking other similar part of the body like happened with arthritis rheumatoid and animal products.

      2. The presence of the antigliadin antibodies in autoimmune thyroid diseases.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15244201

        Autoimmune thyroid diseases and coeliac disease.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9872614

        Clinical and subclinical autoimmune thyroid disease in adult celiac disease.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11768252

        Thyroid-related autoantibodies and celiac disease: a role for a gluten-free diet?
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12192201

      3. i think that unknow diseases are an oasis for folks but, Here at nutrition facts you have found some truth behind autoimmune diseases like ELA MS Arthritis, etc. so it will be good to keep going with the best science available. and without selling any diet in particular. just the best possible food for each person and each condition

  4. does the food allergy test works to reduce inflammation from allergic reactions towers foods?
    would you recommend to do a Colon hydrotherapy when there is constant inflammation or leaky gut? (apart from the change in diet of course)

    1. Food allergy tests are not always accurate. I have not seen any data to suggest using hydrotherapy for leaky gut. One of our amazing site volunteers provided a great link to a clinic that focuses on water fasting. His comment can be found here. The True North Clinic may have other ideas about hydrotherapy.

      1. thank you for your time i may take an hour of you today, it is great service what you do for the community :)
        so in some cases an Hydrotherapy may be good do you think?

        1. I am not a big fan because I tend to think the microbiome may be affected by flushing out the colon. It may impact the gut and remove some of the good bacteria. I don’t think there is good data to suggest hydrotherapy for healthy individuals and for those with certain conditions I am just not an expert in this field to be able to determine when and why it’s used. The folk at True North will know much more. Good luck and I always enjoy your questions so I don’t mind trying to answer.

  5. Though it effects mood states, I doubt that what we eat plays the top role in depression. I’d expect social isolation or unfortunate life events to play a far greater role, including poverty, job loss, death, etc. (Lots of people like to cite diet changes as having effects on mood… I expect that these claims are often overblown.)

    1. I agree. I am dismayed to read so many kooky comments here on this post, seemingly placing sole blame on food triggers/ allergies as source of pathogenesis in depression. I am not saying that food (i.e. mineral imbalances) does not play any role in depression, but often it’s a gigantic leap not to mention oversimplification to attribute the wide range of mood disorders to dietary causes.

      Most of the time when my patients tell me about having depression symptoms, the whole picture that they present is a combination of organic (predisposition) and environmental (lifestyle, crisis, outside triggers) elements aligning to compound the issue.

      1. And I even question the organic predisposition idea though it may be true some of the time. Some people don’t suffer arteriosclerosis so badly so does this mean that those of us who do are predisposed? That predisposition might be the natural state of things. Similarly, anyone might become depressed with the lack of quality attention from others (or exposed to unhealthy inputs).

        1. As a 72 year old.male,Vegan,mostly raw diet,40 years, a kind of sadness occasioned by the news we recieve has been most successfuly offset by 80 to 100% dark chocolate! Those of us initialy motivated to a Vegan diet by a determination to avoid animal products may well be tender minded to our own detriment and such dietary choices are also somewhat socialy isolating.

          1. That is very true, adhering to vegan diets can be socially isolating especially in certain parts of the nation or amongst certain ethnic communities. I have met many local vegans on social sites such as meetup.com. I would highly recommend going to such gatherings in your area. In fact I am going to a vegan Thanksgiving gathering this weekend.

          2. Tony, I agree. I found that going vegan cut me off from many acquaintances and caused relationship conflicts with family because I was so particular about hat I cooked and where we ate and having to crossexamine the servers to be sure to eliminate any animal products. I finally added organic eggs and dairy back and feel less isolated. I feel somewhat guilty about the animals that suffer from human exploitation, no matter how “humane,” but I’m trying to take care of myself. I have several autoimmune problems: asthma, migraines, and fibromyalgia. I have read this thread with interest. I just ordered “The Water Prescription: For Health, Vitality, and Rejuvenation” on half.com (getting a good used copy for .75 plus shipping; total about $4.50) as recommended up thread because I know I’m chronically dehydrated. I’m on a high dose corticosteroid inhaler and have been for years, and at 65 have the fragile skin of a woman 10-20 years older with easy tearing and purpurae. I’m ready to get off the inhaler if I can, so am interested in anti-inflammatory diet too.

        2. Indeed it may be difficult to determine the degree of, if at all, the etiology (which includes genetic predisposition) component of certain diseases or pathologic conditions such as depression or as you’ve mentioned, arteriosclerosis. Both conditions do not follow “one-hit” hypothesis, instead they arise from complex chain of pathophysiological processes. For instance in the case of arteriosclerosis more than one inflammatory pathway may be implicated, thus making the condition variable in scope of disease progression as well as possible response to treatment (types, duration, overall efficacy, etc…). Diet play a major role in etiology of certain CV disorders, though genetics may also predispose or be protective in some way or another. This is why we read of centenarians who ate bacon and drank brandy until the day they died. It’s also why a 30 year-old seemingly healthy athlete can have high cholesterol and other indicators of CV disease (John Salley is an example).

        3. Going out on a limb here :-) but one’s astrology chart might be telling, too. I gotta say I rarely get into a funk –if I do get “depressed” over something, it never lasts more than an hour or so — but I also have Sagittarius rising. Supposedly, I’m optimistic most of the time. *another smiley*

        4. I partly agree, but based on my experience changing my diet has given me a sense of control over my future that is a mood booster. I’d say I feel 25% better most of the time, I get sick less often, and I have better energy. But sometimes bad stuff happens and you need a chance to regroup. I figure if there’s an evolutionary reason for depression its that it slows you down enough to get some much needed thinking time in, a chance to reevaluate priorities (and also avoid making a big show of yourself that might get you eaten by a bear).

          1. Depression tells you that something is wrong. It slows you down and make you keep considering what’s wrong.

            Eating better certainly can boost your mood. Just knowing you’ve made peace with your body can feel like enlightenment. But you still may feel tired… Placebo effects likely also play a very powerful role. If we do anything that we believe will help us, there’s likely to be a placebo effect, which can be very powerful. But that’s a psychological factor.

      2. Personally…I find that mild infections/depression can be related to shallow breathing patterns…breathing deeply for a few minutes can help clear depression and maybe infections?

    2. Tobias, while I understand your skepticism adopting a plant-based diet is still worthwhile to try, especially if nothing else has worked.
      I’ve been diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder (severe, ongoing). I’ve had it most of my life. I’ve seen several psychiatrists, been on a dozen different antidepressants, done transcranial magnetic stimulation, and otherwise taken part in whatever depression studies I qualified for at the local university hospital. Nothing helped.

      I’ve had a blessed life. I had great parents, great friends, and now a great husband. Social activity or lack thereof was not the source of my depression. Even when I briefly had my dream job and a nice apartment close to the beach I still had thoughts of suicide.

      I became plant-based 6 months ago as a last resort. I was also skeptical, I did not believe it would work because nothing
      else had, but I was desperate enough to give it a try. True to the video, I noticed a difference within 2 weeks and literally the only change I made was removing animal products from my diet.

      My experience with others — particularly if they’ve never personally suffered from depression — is everyone has their own theory about depression that they’re adamant about, even if it’s not broadly applicable, and it’s difficult if not impossible to sway their mindset. I know that my depression and the severity of it is not the norm. I also know that a plant-based diet isn’t a guaranteed solution for everyone. However, I would like people to be mindful that regardless of whether or not they agree it can help and is worth trying particularly if no success has been found with conventional treatment. Had a video like this existed many years ago I may not have had to suffer as long as I did.

      1. First, I’ve been totally plant-based for 3+ years.
        I don’t doubt that there can be some instances like yours. But I refer here to the widespread high and increasing levels of depression in the world… mostly associated with the rise of modern society. Sociality and positive social support may have no effect in combating depression for some people. I expect that there are many “causes” and “solutions” so I’m open-minded on this, I believe.
        Congratulations to you for persisting until you found a way to address your depression. It’s pretty amazing that changing your diet wasn’t something doctors suggested while they did try lots of other things.

  6. This is great information! It explains why my 20 yr chronic depression and pain issues related to back injuries and surgeries improved more in my first months of vegetarianism than in 2 decades of surgeries, injections, therapies and meds. I experienced almost immediate much-needed weight loss. I got further improvement adding in meditation, yoga and acupuncture. Adding in regular cardio and isometric exercise (modified for my permanent limitations) amplified these improvements. These lifestyle changes have occurred over 3-4 years. My latest change in the last 9 has been to go vegan, getting completely plant based nutrition by finally eliminating all animal products from my diet including eggs and dairy. I’ve experienced a new surge of weight loss, along with increased energy, more even, stable moods and and greater mobility.
    I still experience situational bouts of depression around major life changes, but I’m coping better and experience less anxiety. I have fewer migraines and less intense, less debilitating bouts of fibromyalgia.
    The next phase toward complete mental and physical health is addressing sugar and processed foods – vegans can easily fall into the ‘easy’ trap of processed prepared foods. Will eliminating these improve my mood and pain issues even more? Time will tell….

    1. Those things often require you to be more social… yoga, going to see acupuncturist, touch, etc. So, you’re going only on feeling here. And you cite “major life changes” as invoking bouts of depression. Only noting this because I expect that social factors are the main cause of depression.

    2. Lydia: Thank you for sharing. It’s awesome that you have been able to turn your heath around like that. And I really like how you recognize that you are on a path and that there is another step you can take to get that extra bit of improvement. I’m thinking good thoughts for you.

    3. I don’t think avoiding the processed crap will hurt. It can only boost chances of feeling better. Added sugar can be addicting. And I recommend avoiding artificial sugars as well because those drinking it may have a higher risk of depression and other neurological diseases.

      1. Very interesting research by Dr. Barnard and his research team. Especially interesting were the members of group 1 which went first on the vegan diet and then were supposed to return to their previous meaty ways and cross over and become the supplement taking group for phase II but refused to abandon the vegan diet. The paper discusses the difficulty of this and other studies in which participants are supposed to stop eating the study vegan diet and don’t because they are feeling so much better. I wonder why the participants can’t serve as their own controls so that the entire cohort can follow the study diet without need to cross over. As in this study most have had their condition for many years usually with the best conventional treatment available. As such the medical history of the participants function as an ideal control both for each individual as their own control and collectively as a group. Any change in condition due to the study diet where years or even decades of conventional therapy failed could clearly be seen as causal. IMHO, self controlled and history controlled studies are much stronger than placebo control in dietary studies where there is no way to blind either the participants or researchers as to which arm/phase of the study a given participant is in.

        1. Great thoughts. I suppose if someone had been suffering for years and tried so many treatment options it’s no surprise they’d stick to what worked. This was the main reason they joined the study, to find some relief. If I was one of the people who found relief I would drop out of the study and sing on a mountain top! Then, I’d blog about it and tell my friends, family, and doctors in hope they can understand that change is possible with a solid diet.

    4. I’ve battled anxiety for years; my main suggestion is to steer clear of sugar. The cake and ice cream cravings are all in our heads anyway. Imagine this, if somebody invented an orange in a laboratory and then hired a marketing team, the whole world would be beating a path to the orange factory’s door. Can’t you just see the advertising? The hype? The hoopla? (“They’re calling it an ORANGE?!?”) I know it sounds like a silly scenario, but it points out the simple fact that our celebration and comfort foods are conditioned in us but that our thought processes can be changed. We need to value the natural world we live in, and nourish ourselves in it. Don’t think of “giving up” sugary desserts as missing out on something. Instead, savor God’s creation. You’ll find yourself relishing the sweetness of all kinds of vegetables and fruits you never even considered sweet before. And, you’ll be free of that mega-anxiety induced by sugar overload!

  7. This seems to make a lot of sense. Do the numbers back it up in terms of lower rates of depression in vegans? Personally I am much happier eating plant-based but I still do struggle with low mood sometimes. Nothing is a bad as when I was still eating gluten though, and could not do without Zoloft.

  8. I am a bit skeptical that my desire to play or not to play video games measures my level of depression. When I read about these kinds of studies, or the ones where different people put their arms in freezing water as a measure of their willpower, I’d like to understand more about how they make this connection, especially when it between people who might have different pain thresholds or reactions to cold water?

    There is a radio show/podcast called “TechNation” where scientific and medical advances are discussed, where one recent podcast I listened to said that bacteria are not being looked at as generators of some medical and psychiatric conditions. For example some bacteria seem to be related to Alzheimer’s and this is now being studied. The same could be true of depression.

    1. >>”I listened to said that bacteria are not being looked at as generators of some medical and psychiatric conditions”

      You meant “now” instead of not didn’t you, Brux?

      I think you are totally right, though.

      As for cold, I have been trying to use some of Ray Cronise’s findings to make myself lose weight a little faster. It’s odd how cold can be painful at one point, that then it becomes sort of comforting.

      1. Thanks for the proofread … that is the second time I’ve done that today … not instead of now … I need to lose weight in my fingers for sure.

    2. Brux, it wasn’t so much a video game as a psychological task administrated by computer with monetary rewards added to make it interesting. Responding quickly enough could win you $1 to $5 on positive trials, and too slow a response or an incorrect response would lose you $1 to $5 on negative trials, with amounts at stake announced at the beginning of the trial. At 6 seconds per trial, 13 each of high/low//positive/negative plus 13 neutral trials, and difficulty calibrated for approximately 66% success on trials, participants were expected to see themselves in the process of winning about $26 in 4 minutes ($390/hr) in an intermittent reward structure that people tend to find more interesting/exciting (think about gambling).

  9. A Question:
    From today’s video: “Normally, we think of omega-3’s as anti-inflammatory, but they found fish to be pro-inflammatory, increasing C-reactive protein levels consistent with recent findings that omega-3’s don’t seem to help with either depression or inflammation.”
    I’m relatively new to veganism, and have recently been reading a lot about the value of FLAX in fighting inflammation. I’ve been sprinkling ground flax seeds on many foods recently, in hopes of reducing inflammation related to osteoarthritis. Should I reconsider this???

    1. I think flaxseed is a very heath-supporting food based. Check out the many videos Dr. Greger lays out on flax. And, these are wonderful on osteoarthritis. Turmeric, berries, and other super high anti-inflammatory foods may certainly help. Let me know what videos stick out or if you have further questions?

      Best,
      Joseph Gonzales, R.D.,
      Nutrition Director

      1. Could you or Dr. Greger please clear up what appears to me to be a discrepancy on the advisability of consuming omega-3-rich foods to help reduce inflammation?

        1. Yes, from searching the health topics I found Omega 3 fatty acids and it says in the first line “The health benefits that are believed to be associated with Omega-3 fatty acid intake include: decreased inflammation, help for arthritis, and reduced symptoms of depression.”

          Have you seen his videos and topics on omega-3 and prostate cancer and heart disease? Or flaxseed? There are some great links here! The topic of inflammation is a great one to explore. Note that it’s not just omega-3s found in plant-foods foods that help reduce inflammation, but as Dr. G points out, “nuts, apples (dried apples too), broccoli, Ceylon cinnamon, dragon’s blood, and black pepper will also help protect the body from inflammation. Though important to eat a variety of whole plant foods, fruits and vegetables with the highest anti-oxidant levels seem to reduce inflammation the most.”

    2. I have arthritis, neuropathy and other unpleasant things caused by gluten (and other foods) intolerance. See my post above. One thing that really makes a difference is flax oil.

      Basically 2 hours after ingesting it my inflammation almost subsides. Of course in order to arrive at such a condition I had to be on the plant based diet (and gluten free diet). Otherwise even flax oil doesn’t help. One more most important remark: in order for the flax oil to work you need to remove all sources of omega-6 fats. Yup – all sources. Don’t worry, you will not get deficient because flax oil also contains omega-6 fats. That’s why it is better to use coconut oil for frying (if you have) than rape/olive oil. This is also something that I confirmed recently on myself. This is only my experience (so not a statistical summary) but if it works for me so well then this experience must count.

      So I am 100% sure that omega-3 helps with inflammation. The only problem that I heard about is that the lipid cell membranes containing more omega-3’s may be more prone to oxidation. So there may be a greater probability of cancer. But afterall this is why we eat a lot of phytonutrients (incl. antioxidants) – they counteract such a possibility.

      Omega-3 fats in fish themselves are probably good for you – I don’t see how can they be bad. But as usual and with all the other foods – fish is a packaged deal. Mercury, PCBs, etc. + meat itself when eating whole fish may counteract the antiinflammatory effect.

    1. Sugar in the form of orange juice can spike oxidation. It wold seem meat, eggs, AGEs, and plastics containing BPA may increase the risk of inflammation, too. Added sugar can be addicting. And I recommend avoiding artificial sugars as well because those drinking it have been shown to have a higher risk of depression and other neurological diseases.

      Big Sugar takes on the World Health Organization to make it seem like adding some to the diet is not a big deal. but drinking soda and consuming added sugars is not health promoting. Fruit on the other hand has natural sugars and can help lower inflammation and possible even symptoms of depression.

  10. Regarding evolutionary biology theory, this video would fit comfortably in today’s Doctor’s Note:
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/flesh-and-fructose/
    “In effect, all humans are double knockouts…” Fascinating.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917125/

    Thanks to videos like this, groundbreaking research of Kimber Stanhope and others (Robert Lustig), and much soul-searching, I finally eliminated absolutely all sources of fructose-save for that found in fresh fruit-from my diet with remarkable results in visceral fat loss (sub q is a bit slower to respond…patience, grasshopper.)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3075927/
    Dr. Stanhope’s lecture on her research may be found here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AJka21yfyE

    I urge everyone to regard non-whole food fructose as their worst enemy! Learn from my mistake of not recognizing this much earlier in life and taking appropriate action. Best in health.

  11. “But, by eliminating animal products, and eating antioxidant rich diets, we may be able to prevent or treat depression.”

    There is no “May” about it. I’m sure you saw it in your own practice Dr. Greger. I know Dr. Forrester, Dr. McDougall and Dr. Barnard have all seen their patients depressive symptoms improve and even disappear after changing to a plant based lifestyle.

    In fact, it’s so apropos, I had a patient yesterday that came to me after going Plant Based (about 95%) last May, 2015 and who had horrible stomach pains, prediabetes, and depression and anxiety from “life stressor’s”. She reported that she is feeling amazing and the same life stressor’s that once made her feel down do not make her feel depressed or anxious anymore. Her stomach pains also resolved, she lost 25 lbs and resolved her prediabetes. The best thing though was that I got a big hug from her stating she was so thankful that I kept encouraging her to go plant based. And if it wasn’t for doctors like me she would still be in the same misery she had been experiencing for the last 10 years.

    We need more doctors/providers/human beings willing to educate their patients/co-workers/friends and family on the amazing power of the human body to heal both physical and mental problems with a low tech lifestyle change by eating whole food plant based.

    And if anyone feels overwhelmed about how to help. Just try to get some of the people you know and care about with these mental and physical problems to start their journey to a healthier life by finding pertinent videos about any of their diseases on this website. That’s how I get my patients to listen, is I talk with them about what their problems are and then I show them the pertinent videos on NutritionFacts.org that I know will be of interest to them. Why NutritionFacts.org first? Because the videos are short, to the point and enjoyable to watch. They also have all the medical references and you can read the studies yourself if you are so inclined like I am and do.

    Then you can direct them to two other fantastic websites about the implementation of this lifestyle change at http://www.DrMcDougall.com (Under the Education tab click “The Free Program”) and http://www.PCRM.org (click on Health and Nutrition and the Free 21 Day Vegan Kickstart).

    There is nothing better than the gift of health!

    1. Dr. HemoDynamic: What an awesome post! One of the best. I have a family member who I think this post is really going to help, and I’m going to share. Thanks so much for writing about your personal experiences. Those are some of my favorite posts.

  12. A low protein diet can cause depression as follows. Amino acids play a mayor role in depression (neurotransmitters). With age, the balance of the amino acids we make changes. Thus, diet plays a certain role as amino acids (neurotransmitters) are directly derived from dietary protein through stages of conversion that deteriorate with age. Another dietary factor in depression is the excessive amount of copper (chocolate, mushrooms) and little amount of zinc (pumpkin seeds).

    1. That’s a great reference about curcumin. I often wonder how much turmeric you need to take to get the benefits, and how the fresh root compares to the powdered spice.

  13. I’m excited about searching for unseen inflammatory processes as the underlying cause of my chronic depression. I have an incredibly clean plant-based diet (and getting cleaner, thanks, in part, to Dr. Geger’s continuing influence), but there is something residual at work in the background. My antennae are up as I strive to detect the as yet hidden culprit(s).

  14. what specific foods should be eaten on the anti inflammatory diet?would brown rice be the preferred grain?would oatmeal be included or avoided?

    1. There is no real definition of an anti-inflammatory diet, but most plant-foods are anti-inflammatory and it’s important to load up on them! Antioxidants in plants can really help lower inflammation. All whole grains are preferred and since each type offers different compounds I tend to recommend a variety of whole grains. Oatmeal is totally in if you like it.

      Lastly, go big on greens, herbs and spices, fruits, and beans. Check out more in the Health Topics on inflammation. Oh berries and tea are also amazing so make sure to watch videos on those topics, too. Let me know what helps or if you have further questions?

      Good luck!
      Joseph

      1. Joseph,

        I waited to post this until later, as I did not want to distract from today’s great video topic…..

        I am hoping you can tell me what the science says as far as caffeine content in in cocoa powder, the non-fat
        cocoa powder such that Dr. G uses, as well as many others. I have read sources online saying everything from
        cocoa powder containing the same amount of caffeine as coffee, to sources that claim there is 25 % of the caffeine
        as coffee, to chocolate/cocoa powder makers and vendors claiming there is zero caffeine in cocoa. And so many of
        these sources claim to be experts/exact.

        So I ask you, is there any definite science on this? And would the processing of the bean into cocoa powder reduce any caffeine?
        I think this would be a great video/study for Dr. G to do, but I am wondering either way what you think.

        Thanks for any insight.

  15. Wow. I just finished reading about the microbiome and mental illness/depression, it all ties together. I know in my case switching to a WFPB diet sure made a world of change, but adding cultured (fermented) foods really took my mental health to the next level! So many cultures utilize many fermented foods, and we so rarely do anymore…only the vestiges/imitations…pasteurized and shelf stable commercial versions, though that is slowly changing. In the meantime, I will continue to culture those teensy beneficent creatures in my busy kitchen laboratory! Heh heh heh!

    1. Charzie, I agree with you that fermented foods are such an important part of a healthy diet and that making our own is the best way to go. Here’s a quote from Digestive Wellness (page 56): “Our two most important groups of intestinal flora are the lactobacilli, found mainly in the small intestine, and bifidobacteria, found primarily in the colon. Neither species is native to our digestive tract, but we can consume them in cultured foods or in supplements, and they “vacation” in us for up to 12 days in a a mutually beneficial relationship. While on vacation they shore up the local economy like all good tourists. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria excrete large amounts of acetic, formic, and lactic acid, which makes the intestinal environment inhospitable to invading microbes .”

      1. Amazing Julie! I hope I don’t jinx myself, but I haven’t been sick in ages since I started fermenting, even when everyone around me has been, but the huge issue for me has been the improvement in my mood! I can’t remember ever feeling so good, and it certainly is NOT my circumstances…I lost my oldest son a few years ago, I have barely any income, no car, my grandkids moved across the country… in the past I would have slit my throat by now! Life is a gift and I am so grateful to finally be able to live in the moment and appreciate each one.
        I might have posted this before, but here is someone else who is very passionate about cultured foods because they changed her health and life…the link to her excellent website is under the video.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbX9Nv9OtGM

        In our current germophobic, paranoid, misguided, society, a healthy microbiome is yet another huge diet related issue that needs a lot more focus and attention. Keeping our immune systems healthy and out-numbering the bad microbes with good ones is the way to stay well, not trying to nuke em all when we are feeling sick, abusing antibiotics to the point of rendering them ineffective for any purpose. Nature knows balance but most of us, apparently, haven’t a clue.

        1. Thanks, Charzie for letting me know about Donna Schwenk. I’d never heard of her before and enjoyed the inspiring video. I will definitely check out her blog. Probably not a coincidence that kefir means “good feeling” in Turkish.

    2. Hi Charzie, when you say you just finished reading about the microbiome and mental illness/depression, was there a particular book or article you could recommend? Also, any good resources for learning to make fermented foods?

      1. Sure, here are just a few articles:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694/
        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-health-may-depend-on-creatures-in-the-gut/
        http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/01/27/fermented-food-and-mental-health/80471.html
        https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201404/the-gut-brain-connection-mental-illness-and-disease
        If you just google “microbiome and mental illness” you will come up with a slew of them!

        As far as making fermented foods, (most of which I use the “wild” microbes to initiate, as is traditional, but maybe not “optimal”?) my favorite resources are:
        http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/ (she sells some cultures too…be sure to view her “My Story” video.)
        http://www.culturesforhealth.com (they also sell some cultures)
        http://www.wildfermentation.com/ (and especially his books!)
        http://phickle.com
        Again, google “fermentation recipes” for a wide variety of ideas! Good luck on your adventures!

  16. Thank you Dr. Greger! Thank you so very much! We have all wanted more mental health videos, and this one did not disappoint! Thank you so much for writing, reading, and reporting this. We are begging for more videos on mental health! Thank you so much!

  17. hmm…I can see another book by Dr Greger coming soon …

    Avoiding packaged/processed food containing MSG helps , eg. noodles and crisps.
    I’ve also heard that mushrooms can affect some people , but not sure if there is any scientific basis to that.
    It (mushrooms)does make me sleepy , so I avoid it except for dinner time.

  18. Hi!
    Back in the summer of 2012 I was feeling fine, until one night when I suddenly woke up needing to pee. The day after that I was really tired, but thought that I’d sleep well that night, but I woke up that night as well, needed to pee, and felt like crap the day after. This continued for 8 months, when I lost the need to pee, but nevertheless woke up and felt like crap. It has gotten better since then, but I still can’t feel happy like I used to, and my sleep is not perfect (it seems to get worse the days I drink coffee, so I’m switching over to black and green tea). What do you think is wrong? I know that the year that preceded the onset of my symptoms were stressful, because I spent a lot of time trying to get my driver’s license, and I also ate a lot of sunflower seeds, and eggs because I had heard that a relatively low blood sugar is good for you.
    I stopped eating sunflower sees more than a year ago, and I’ve cut down on eggs a lot. I eat oats, carrots, peas. I’m also taking probiotics. Do you think it could help?
    Thanks for your help!
    PS. Forgot to tell you that I also take escitalopram

  19. the correlation of 0.04 between fish and CRP is significant in a sample size of 4600 participants…. this does not mean that fish was associated with pro-inflammation. The correlation is basically zero, but is significant due to large sample size.

    1. Fish was associated with increased CRP in the study, albeit weakly and through a very preliminary naive type of model. A low positive correlation is consistent with the idea that fish raises CRP and many other factors do too so that fish only causes a small fraction of the variation in CRP. Moreover, its inclusion in the “best” dietary pattern for explaining IDP score is also consistent with the idea, although you can see that it represents a relatively small portion of that dietary pattern.

      It is possible that residual factors associated with fish consumption explain the result, however, and a raw dietary pattern analysis is not really a good method for evaluating particular foods. That said, you should use terms more carefully. A statistically significant correlation is a statistically significant association. You can debate the implied model that produces the association, but you shouldn’t deny the terminology.

      1. I think I am using the terms extremely properly. ANY correlation will BE SIGNIFICANT given a large sample size. 0.04 basically is NO correlation.

        1. A weak (positive) correlation is a (positive) correlation. You wouldn’t expect a correlation of 0.3 for fish when maybe 10 or 20 important, largely independent factors are involved, would you?

  20. Which paper here addresses the proposition that omega-3s are inflammatory? Is this true for plant sources as well as animal? This is news to me. Most clinicians advocating WFPB diet recommend chia and flaxseed to balance our omega3/6 ratios. Drs. Greger/Gonzales, please clarify this finding and the research supporting it. Thank you!

    1. I agree it was confusing. He references one study that showed fish to be pro-inflammatory. That was clear. He then shows a paragraph about omega-3 supplementation that reads “a recently published meta-analysis of 13 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials… concluded that long-chain omega-3 supplementation had neither statistically or clinically significant impacts on depression symptom severity.”

      In order to interpret this sentence, we need to know a lot more about those 13 studies. What were the supplements? Fish oil? Flax? What kind of diets were the people eating at baseline?

      The next sentence is even harder to interpret: “Moreover, a recent systematic review indicates that long-chain omega-3 (0.9-2.0 g/day) do not change biomarkers in healthy subjects.” Are they talking about supplements again, or is the 0.9-2.0 g/day meant to indicate whole food sources? And again, was it fish, or what about ground flax seed?

      This is a really important question. I’m with Cathy, Drs. Greger/Gonzales, please clarify this finding. Thank you.

  21. Hi student, Dr Gregar will be a guest speaker for Dr Nedley EQ summit early next year, Dr Nedley has an exceptional Depression and Anxiety Recovery that really has an incredible success rate, maybe this could be a source to look into? http://www.drnedley.com

  22. It’s great to see that the link between diet, inflammation, and depression is being addressed, but at the same time, I feel sort of discouraged. I have suffered from MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) my entire adult life. (I am 46) I have also multiple sclerosis, as does my biological mother, so obviously there is a predisposition in my genetics for inflammatory disorders of the central nervous system. Fortunately, my MS is mild, and remains in near-total remission with healthy lifestyle habits. But my depression remains as dark a cloud as ever, despite 4 years on a plant-based diet, 3 years on a whole foods, plant-based diet (a la T Colin Campbell and The China Study – minimal processed food, minimal sugar/oil), mindfulness practices, yoga, an SSRI, and talk therapy. As others have said, there are often deep social stressors involved in depression that a diet can’t modulate, and in my case I believe it has to do with severe and repetitive trauma I experienced as a child. I’m sure I would feel worse if I weren’t eating whole foods, plant-based, but it’s so discouraging that my symptoms haven’t responded better to healthy food. Am I 100% perfect with the diet? No, I’m human. But I really think I’m pretty close… 90-98%, it varies depending on how much energy I’m able to muster to plan, shop, and cook. I wish there was some kind of magic dietary change i could make, but at this point, I just don’t know what to do. I’ve considered probiotics, going grain free, etc, the usual things you hear…. but I’m not convinced there’s good data supporting those. For what it’s worth, I did go gluten-free for a month, and didn’t notice any difference in how I felt.

    1. As a fellow PWMS I would like to direct your attention to this site: overcomingms.org. Supplementing with vitamin D and meditation might be the last pillars you ned for recovery.

      1. Thank you, west. I take 5000IU of Vitamin D3 daily. I don’t have a regular meditation practice – yet – but I’m working on it! And of course, we all know that exercise is important. I have been very active at times in the past – I even completed a 200hr yoga teacher training in July! But since the training ended, I have fallen in a slump, and fully intend to get back to regular exercise. My neurologist recently told me that exercise (the kind that gets your heart rate up) has been shown to help MS directly, and not just indirectly through cardiovascular and strength benefits. I didn’t know that!

    2. You are already doing so much, so right! Perhaps if you had a supportive community of fellow WFPB eaters locally, to share meals and experiences with, it would help – both psychologically and materially (joint shopping trips, cooking together, films, etc) to help keep you motivated and make it all more fun. Just started a plant-based/vegan meetup in my town. Perhaps it would help you too?

    3. Has your doctor tried an augmentation strategy? The two drugs for which there are compelling data and which are approved for use in conjunction with an antidepressant are Abilify and Seroquel XR. I prefer Seroquel for patients who have anxiety and insomnia and Abilify for those who are fatigued and anergic. Another effective, noninvasive treatment is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

      1. I have recently started working with a new psychiatrist, and we haven’t tried that yet. I will look into it. I am definitely in the fatigued and lethargic camp. Thank you.

    4. PlantStrongGal: I’m sorry you are going through such a hard time. I don’t have an answer for you, but I feel from your post that you will find one. You seem to have a very good head on your shoulders. I wish you luck.

  23. think there should be a goldern mean. people who dont drink alcohol or drink excessively are worst off than people who drink. Same principle applies to lots of other biological process system. Like exercise. Like going out into the sun. like sleeping.

    Wont be surprise if eating meat is the same.

  24. I was hoping you might look into lithium and mood disorders/brain health. I was inspired by this New York Times piece (“Should we all take a bit of lithium?” Fels, 2014/09/14) and have read some of the primary literature, which is intriguing. I have now been taking low-dose lithium supplements (lithium aspartate, 5-10 mg/day) for about a year, and I believe it’s been helpful in stabilizing my mood. Though I’ve never been formally diagnosed with depression, I used to suffer black moods and outbreaks of intense irritability at times, and my family has a history of bipolar disorder. I just finished reading ‘How Not to Die’ and appreciate everything on this site (which I’ve visited periodically for a few years but am now exploring in more detail). I’ve been eating plant-based (with varying levels of strictness) for about seven years, and my general health is great, but that alone did not seem to noticeably help my moodiness. Thanks!

  25. I am surprised that Dr Greger has found evidence that Omega 3s do not help depression. I have been taking them for years. They were prescribed by a psychiatrist, which he backed up with a study on specifically done on EPA fish oils and they seem to have helped. If that is not true, is there evidence of ALA or some other oil being beneficial?

  26. I saw this article mentioned today http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.008

    Systems Nutrigenomics Reveals Brain Gene Networks Linking Metabolic and Brain Disorders

    Meng et al. report fructose as a powerful inducer of genomic and
    epigenomic variability with the capacity to reorganize gene networks
    critical for central metabolic regulation and neuronal processes in the
    brain; conversely, an omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, has the potential to
    normalize the genomic impact of fructose. Our findings help explain the
    pathogenic actions of fructose on prevalent metabolic and brain
    disorders and provide proof-of-concept for nutritional remedies
    supported by nutrigenomics evidence. Our integrative approach
    complementing rodent and human studies supports the applicability of
    nutrigenomics principles to predict disease susceptibility and to guide
    personalized medicine.

  27. “Why is depression so common?”
    We’re born into a losing struggle; no one has ever beaten these odds, like the great Hitchens said. Come out of star dust only to become food for worms. Being all the time reminded of the ultimate meaninglessness of everything… yes, you know, you may sink into a small depression :)

    1. Hi Lisa, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. You certainly bring up a good point–if fish, a food high in omega-3 fatty acids, cause high levels of inflammation, might also flax or walnuts, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, do the same thing? The study doesn’t seem to point out whether flaxseeds or nuts have the same effect. However, I would suggest that because foods are not isolated nutrients, and that there are many phytochemicals and antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory, that flax and walnuts would actually be beneficial at reducing inflammation. Fish contains animal protein, toxic heavy metals, and possibly other compounds that can cause inflammation, while flax and nuts have been shown to decrease inflammation. I hope this helps, Lisa!

  28. Hi sweet people.

    I have been looking for trustable information about perikon and depression. I was thinking; ofcourse I have to take a look at nutritionfacts. Is it true that not a single article or movie is to be found on the subject?

    Thank you.

    Regards from Marco.

  29. Thank you for your videos, Dr. Greger! I am hoping that you will consider speaking about bipolar disorder. I have bipolar 2, and would like to know what, other than lithium, I could take/do to help myself. When I asked my psych about turmeric, he told me I should go see a naturopath, as he knows nothing about it. I’m hoping that *you* can help me!

    1. Hi HM and thanks for your question. Fortunately, there is quite a bit of research into the role that diet plays in psychiatric conditions including mood disorders. While you may achieve some benefit from the addition of certain nutrients to your diet, such as turmeric, adopting a whole food plant based dietary pattern may be your best medicine. This video by Dr. Greger gives a nice overview of the mechanism that might be involved in mood stabilization that is seen in those following a plant based diet: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-diet-mood/. As a follow up, this video digs a bit deeper into the role of arachidonic acid (found in animal products) in promoting brain inflammation and thereby creating more mood DE-stabilization: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/improving-mood-through-diet/. I hope this information helps you!

  30. I couldn’t find any information regading MTHFR genetic mutations. I was recently tested and positive for both. I’m wondering how much this really affects my health. Thanks!

  31. Heather,

    the MTHFR is the enzyme needed to break down amino acid called homocysteine. You lack the enzyme. So your body may have more homocysteine. Risks vary depending on your levels of homocysteine. So depending on those levels, you may be at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and also having baby born with neural tube defect. You should aim to lower the HC levels. The most important thing is to get enough B vitamins! Especially B6, B9 and B12 are important. But you need to avoid synthetic folic acid (you wouldn’t be able to convert enough of it to it’s active form – folate): https://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-folic-acid-be-harmful/ you can also take supplements containing levomefolic acid.

  32. I have been eating WFPB for 4 months now. I am feeling quite full of nervous anxiety and unhappy emotions. I am loving the eating and having no problems at all sticking to it. My daughter is doing great. Her skin is still not ceasing to break out, but she is happy and doing great. The other day I had an odd spasm in my calf that reoccurred over and over through one day, and now one of my breasts is having a slight pain. But, mostly, I am feeling a great amount of anxiety. Is this normal for a 4 month time frame? I am taking: B12-3,000 mcg per week; Iodine supplement- 45,000 mcg per week; Omega 3 daily,
    Biotin 2-5 mg daily; D3-15,000 daily;
    Is this just a matter of time? I don’t feel much better and feel deeply unmotivated and discouraged about life. The eating is easy….no unmotivation there. Just feel like my emotional self may be missing something.
    Thank you if you can help.
    Sandy

  33. Dear Sandy, As a nurse and moderator for this site, I would encourage you to explore your feelings with a counselor. You’re doing a great job eating a healthy diet and that can certainly help you with moods (please see an earlier comment by Dr. Artz which offers some wise comments and recommendations for NF videos which may give more insights. However if these negative emotions you are having also need to be addressed in other proactive ways so you can identify other possible causes beyond your diet that may be contributing. Please consult with a trusted healthcare professional who can help you identify and resolve other issues. Meanwhile don’t give up the healthy diet because that will help as you improve both physically and emotionally.

    To your better health, Joan-Nurse Educator

  34. I’ve left dairy and sugar behind and my depression disappeared after 2 weeks. Sugar has a bigger role in this than animal products I think.
    (I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years and ate only yoghurt and cream cheese)

    1. Sayzzz,
      I’m not sure what food tolerance tests you are referring to (blood tests or skin reaction tests?), but the most reliable test for food intolerance is the elimination then challenge test. The skin testing may give some clues on foods that may be a problem, but there are many false positives. It should be followed up with an elimination diet (remove these foods from your diet for a period of time) then challenge yourself with the food item to determine if you react. This needs to be done under the guidance of your physician. If you are interested in more topics on the immune system, check out this link https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/immune-function/

  35. I couldn’t quite figure out where exactly to post this question so I’m hoping it’s seen. I’ve been searching high and low and can’t find any credible info on this subject. Here goes… I have Hashimoto’s and therefore of course hypothyroidism. I’m properly medicated and feel well. My doctor is supportive of my plant based diet which is nice but still insists I stay gluten and soy free. Her rationale is that gluten and soy are inflammatory and she doesn’t want to make the Hashimoto’s (being already inflammatory) worse. I heard Dr. Goldhammer mention to quit gluten for Hashimoto’s, so I trust that.
    My main question is the soy. I already don’t consume any fake soy products/”meats”, soy isolates, soy milk, basically any types of processed soy. BUT I do on occasion eat tofu out at restaurants and buy it to cook with on a rare occasion. But I have been limiting that because of her recommendation. It seems me being on a whole foods, plant based and 99%+ of the time no oil diet would offset any possible inflammatory properties of occasional whole foods sources of soy like tofu, edamame, possibly tempeh (never tried it but would consider it). I find it hard to believe whole food sources of soy are inflammatory at all, but you never know. I’m also asking here because she said she had learned that from “some study”. Any studies, info or advice related to Hasimotos/hypothyroid and gluten and soy are greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

  36. Hello Patricia,
    Thank you for your question. I am a family doctor with a private practice in lifestyle medicine and also a volunteer moderator for this website. To try to answer your question, I looked at PubMed, a free database of medical articles. Here is their website, in case you’re interested in doing your own research: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

    I first looked for any articles about inflammatory effects of soy, using the search strategy “soy inflammatory effects review” — and got a list of 58 review articles about soy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=soy+inflammatory+effects+review

    I just looked at the first 10 of those (the most recent ones), and every single one of them was about the ANTI-inflammatory effects of soy. These ten discussed soy protein, as well as various components of soy, including polyphenols, genistein, isoflavones, and phytoestrogens. The beneficial effects mentioned included anti-cancer effects, cardio-vascular disease prevention (x2), anti-oxidant effects (x3), anti-inflammatory effects in general (x2), improvements in lipid metabolism, and protection against metabolic syndrome.

    I couldn’t find any articles about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and soy. However, when I looked for articles about hypothyroidism and soy consumption, I found some conflicting information. First there was this study of macaque monkeys: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160414/ — which concludes that: “soy protein and isoflavone consumption does not adversely affect and may even preserve thyroid function in postmenopausal women”.

    However, then I found this concerning case report about a Japanese woman with thyroiditis who had been consuming lots of soy/kale powder extract, who developed hypothyroidism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28870235; they conclude that “soy isoflavone powder extracts can lead to severe hypothyroidism.” Maybe this is what your doctor was worried about??

    Bottom line: it seems there in conflicting evidence about soy and thyroid function, as discussed in this article, titled “Soy foods and supplementation: a review of commonly perceived health benefits and risks.”: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24473985. They say “Soy supplementation … appears to affect thyroid function in an inconsistent manner, as studies have shown both increases and decreases in the same parameters of thyroid activity.” Their overall conclusion was: “The authors found that consuming moderate amounts of traditionally prepared and minimally processed soy foods may offer modest health benefits while minimizing potential for adverse health effects.” I think this is good advice.

    I hope this helps. I did not get into the topic of gluten. My advice to patients about gluten is generally along the lines that if they are really concerned, they should try a strict gluten-free diet for a couple of weeks, and see if they notice any improvement in how they feel.

    Dr. J
    PhysicianAssistedWellness.com
    Volunteer moderator for NutritionFacts.org.

    1. Thank you so so much!!! I’m confident that I can consume tofu or edamame every couple weeks as part of a varied diet and have no ill effects and possibly some good effects!It’s ok you didn’t get into gluten, there is more info on that out there.Also thanks for the links! Just in case anyone tries to question it or I want to read more :) ThanksPatricia

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