It is only natural that the human body occasionally experiences anxiety and depression. Even hundreds of years ago, our ancestors struggled with the conditions.
However, why is it that the rate of people being diagnosed with anxiety and depression is constantly rising and is an everyday occurrence for many people?
Until 1980, anxiety didn’t even exist. Sure, the symptoms were still present, but the official anxiety disorder diagnosis hadn’t yet been created, so people were unaware of why they were feeling the way they were.
However, as the research into anxiety and depression has grown, we have discovered that whilst there are countless reasons for somebody to suffer, foods can actually influence the disorders more than we realise.
Today’s society is shying away from foods that our ancestors ate and didn’t have a problem with, and similarly, we’re putting foods into our bodies that they wouldn’t have dared touch with a barge pole. So how does this actually influence us today?
Take fat for example. We are constantly being told we need to live on fat-free diets, consuming as little fat as possible. Something our ancestors consumed by the bucket load.
Whilst not eating as much fat as our ancestors used to may be good for us in some ways, it can also have negative effects on our bodies that we just don’t realise yet.
Over 60% of our brains are comprised of fat, and this fat needs to be maintained otherwise our brain suffers greatly. In this case, the lack of fat can manifest in conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Sarah Conklin, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, explains:
“We were able to show that individuals who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets had more gray matter volume in areas of the brain important for regulating mood.
These results suggest that these specific fats, certainly not fat in general, may confer a protective effect against depression and other mood-related problems.”
There are many studies that have delved into this topic and explored further the effects of dietary requirements on our mental health, particularly when compared to our ancestors. They are certainly fascinating reads, but can they be used to improve our lifestyle today?
It’s yet to be explored. For now, I’d recommend sticking to a wholesome diet and working on anxiety and depression through modern-day conventional methods, but who knows, one day our diets may return to the way our ancestors once ate.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe that our diets can affect our mental health? Why do you think our ancestors didn’t have the problems we have today?
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This Post Has 5 Comments
Yesssss!!I would love to understand why are ancestors didn’t suffer as much. However, maybe they just suffered in silence or were over medicated. Causing even more qaweful unwanted side effects. I also have wondered why siblings usualy don’t suffer from depression or long term anxiety.
You write “Take fat for example. We are constantly being told we need to live on fat-free diets, consuming as little fat as possible.”
I’ve been reading and practicing health and wellness for 40 years. It’s been at least a decade where no one in the media is saying eat a fat-free diet. People still buy fat free–for whatever reason or programming–but the experts and wiser people aren’t suggesting anything close to a fat-free diet or to buy fat-free milk and yogurt.
I have lived sufficiently long to remember times when the title of this article was undeniably true. Of course people felt down at times and had occasional worries but certainly not at epidemic proportions. This changed with the advent of an over reliance upon science and government telling us that that is not how life should be, that they could make us better and that they could prescribe a way of life that, if followed, would make life good and they would look after us. Inevitably this led to a lack of self-responsibility and resilience. These were devolved to the state. We now have a population which expects everything and is prepared to give the minimum of effort for it. We have rights!
When I was a child, I would eat ALL the fat of meat I eat, be it pork or beef, because I liked it, and I was fine. In fact, I feel I used to be finer than now. (I’m a vegetarian and consume vegetable oil instead.) You ever wonder why who started saying in social media that fat would make you fat? Because it doesn’t. You need fat in your body for consumption.
I agree that diet has a role to play when it comes to our mental health, but I think its minor in comparison to tech. I the the root cause of our contemporary mental health issues has to deal with the pervasiveness of social media.