Depression in Perimenopause: Let’s Eat Some More
If you’re anything like me and you love to eat, then you were probably positively delighted to learn from my last post that you can eat your way out of depression. You will also be delighted to know that this post is about eating, too. Yes indeed, meno-sisters, it is hail to the knife and fork once again today!
Please take note, ladies, I’m not suggesting that if you simply change your eating habits that any depression or mood disorders you may be experiencing in perimenopause will just magically go away. Because I’m not. Depression and mood disorders in perimenopause are far more complex than that, and they are not just due to poor diet. But, poor diet can, and does, exacerbate depression and mood disorders.
That’s a fact.
Thus far we’ve learned that for women going through perimenopause, it is important to understand the direct correlation between serotonin and estrogen. That is, when one goes up, the other goes up. When one goes down, the other goes down. I also told you that serotonin, a key brain chemical which helps modulate mood, is primarily produced in your digestive tract – hence, eating one’s way out of depression.
With the right foods, your body is able to produce serotonin, which will subsequently contribute to more stable moods, helping to lift the fog of depression naturally. Foods which are rich in tryptophan provide the necessary amino acids needed for your body to produce serotonin. However, simply eating foods rich in tryptophan is not enough.
It’s also important to eat foods which stabilize blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes caused from highly processed carbohydrates containing refined flour and sugar, for example, can set you on a mood swing roller coaster – up and down, and up and down. Unfortunately, the prevailing wisdom concerning carbohydrates also swings back and forth. They are good for us. They are not good for us. They are good for us. They are not good for us.
It’s horribly confusing.
Personally, I believe that “all things in moderation” is the best over-all approach to nutrition, including carbohydrates. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are necessary in a balanced diet, but it is complex, rather than simple carbohydrates, which are the most effective in slowly raising and maintaining blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, breads, and cereals, but they can also be found in vegetables such as spinach, yams, broccoli, and zucchini. Complex carbohydrates can also be found in beans such as lentils. Eating protein in conjunction with complex carbohydrates will enable your body to absorb them slowly, thus keeping blood sugar levels on a slow and steady incline, rather than sharp spikes which lead to inevitable crashes, taking your mood with it.
In addition to eating your way out of depression in perimenopause, exercise and exposure to light are necessary components as well. Both of which I will be addressing in my next posts. Don’t miss them!
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.