Depression and Health

by Steven Carney on October 30, 2012

It’s been known for some time that diet, activity and lifestyle contribute to a healthy brain and stable mood, and that junk foods, inactivity, and stress contribute to depression. Here are some of the nutritional and lifestyle factors which often drive mood problems and depression:

  • Daily intake of sugar and refined carbs/junk food
  • Systemic inflammation
  • High stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Inactivity
  • Lack of micro-nutrients

Those lifestyle issues are common for many people with mood and depressive problems. I went through some of my own issues with depression in my 20s and 30s but I haven’t had a problem for many years. I learned how to maintain my health at a higher level and I’m getting lots of benefits!

Junk foods aren’t brain food

If you’re feeling down day after day, the first place to look is how much sugar and refined carb-intake you have each day (I know it’s hard. Sugar and refined carbs are everywhere)! That’s because a regular intake of soda and sugary foods, plus junk and processed foods, will all trigger blood-sugar spikes and crashes.

Those refined and junk foods are addictive and toxic! Addictive because sugar and refined carbs digest quickly and spike blood sugar, causing the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Yes, you can briefly feel energized from the sugar, but you will crash shortly after, then feel worse. Toxic because high sugar is harmful to the body, adding to weight gain, metabolic disruptions, mood and health problems. Those, in turn can lower mood, self-esteem, and increase stress and depression! The consequences are worse than any gains you might feel.

Inflammation spreads everywhere

Another area of concern is systemic inflammation, which can affect all areas of the body, including the brain. Systemic inflammation is linked to many lifestyle health conditions and diseases, such as heart disease, arthritis, pain, diabetes and cancer! It often arises from diet (the American diet is very pro-inflammatory), high sugar, abdominal fat and inactivity (I have many posts on these dietary issues. Scroll down to see headings).

In case you don’t realize it, fat around the waistline and digestive organs is metabolically active. Those fat cells disrupt normal hormones, add more cravings, and pump out inflammatory chemicals. Guess what? Those changes don’t stay in your abdominal fat, they spread and circulate all over your body, causing a cascade of health problems!

Stress and sleep

Another key area is high stress, which can literally shrink the brain and increase a whole range of mood disorders, from fear and anxiety to depression. Stress triggers the fight or flight response and causes the release of cortisol, a hormone which is damaging over time. Stress can also disrupt hormonal and metabolic systems and lead to feelings of exhaustion and burn-out. So constant stress is a big risk, and a contributing cause to depression.


A lack of sleep is also damaging. Restless or poor-quality sleep is known to affect memory, cognition, metabolism, weight, mood, etc. And studies show connections between too little or too much sleep and depression (7-8 hours is best for most adults). Although insomnia can be more common with age, there are quite a few natural sleep aids that can help you break the cycle of restless nights and feeling tired the next day.

Inactivity is also known to make depression worse, whereas simple things like brisk walking, gardening, biking or other activities you might enjoy can help alleviate depression. Some studies have found that exercise is very effective in fighting depression. It turns on your brain and body in unique ways, helps to burn any excess glucose, lowers inflammation, keeps you younger, etc. The benefits are many!

Nutrition really matters

Many vitamins and minerals, along with antioxidants and healthy fats like those in nuts, olive oil/EVOO and omega-3 oils in fish oil all help to boost health (but not most refined veggie oils/fried foods), including brain health, neurotransmitters, and mood. B vitamins are important, but other vitamins (including D), minerals, and omega-3 fats also contribute. And the right balance of these nutrients also play a role, as vitamins and minerals work together. They need each other to be effective!

Keeping blood sugar stable is also important for stable weight and brain function, so eating lean, healthy proteins like chicken and fish, along with more fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds are also a key approach. You’ll lose weight naturally and get a boost of energy and mood! And remember, even if you have a genetic predisposition for mood problems, your lifestyle can help keep those genes inactive!

Overall, a coach trained in life and health/wellness areas can help you create the right foundation for a more stable mood and hopeful outlook, especially for mild or moderate depression. I’ll help you to nourish your body and brain in ways you probably haven’t done before (and no, it doesn’t cost more to eat more simple food). You’ll feel better in a week or two, and if you have extra weight, you will lose pounds without dieting! My approach will help you lower inflammation and lower risk for most chronic diseases!

Feel free to drop me a line or ask a question. I also have a special report available for free, just request the report that’s taking 10 years off your life!

BTW: This is my 60th post and a milestone for me! So if you don’t realize it, there are many posts and articles on nutrition, fitness, health/wellness, disease, and related topics. Either scroll down to see more titles or check the category links on the lower right! And thanks for visiting!

Helpful links:

I found this study on 11/27/12 after I published this article:

I noticed this relevant study on 12/26/12 and decided to include it:

I found this on 1/1/13 and decided to add:

I found this study on 1/8/13:

On 2/10/12, I found this info about a lawsuit against Zoloft showing the research fraud found in many anti-depressant studies:

Yet another insightful post by Dr. Davis on the serious mood and behavioral problems related to wheat proteins:

Here is a new study showing associations between depression, mood issues and vitamin D:

An informative collection of research and illustrations showing the significance of vitamins, minerals, supplements and diet on mental health and mood:

Added 8/13: An incredibly shocking video that demonstrates the influence of money and the deep corruption of drug companies, doctors and the FDA for mental or emotional illness/depression/anxiety. You won’t believe this video (but if you are taking these drugs, please consult with me before stopping so we can make sure you are taking other steps to support health mood and brain function):

A new and credible study from 9/13 that shows strong effects for omega-3 fats (like those in fish oil) and lower depression:

A new human study showing that turmeric/curry can be as effective as an anti-depressant for depression:

Some new articles and study info from 10/28/13 about how antidepressants are no better than placebo:

Some new insights into nutrition, depression/mood and epigenetics (the influence of lifestyle and environment on genes Parts 1 and 2):

Another study showing good benefits for exercise and depression:

A new article from 12/2013 with info about foods that drive inflammation and depression:

This new video from 12/2013 on Vitamin B12 by Dr. Brogan is short and very helpful:

A good article about serotonin and all the body systems it affects:!

A new study and article showing connections between mental health and nutrition:

A new article about vitamin C, mood, stress and anxiety:

A new article that explores how nutritional elements directly affect neurotransmitters and depression:

 © 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


Damas April 7, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Great write-up! I’m a regular visitor to your site, and plan to come by again!

Steve Carney April 8, 2013 at 9:38 AM


Many people don’t realize how much lifestyle contributes to mood and brain function.

Anonymous September 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Every weekend i visit this site, for the reason that i wish for enjoyment, since this this website conations genuinely good info.

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