The incidence of depression has been increasing at an alarming rate over the last 50 or so years. And taking drugs for depression is becoming as common as taking high blood pressure medication. Like many of the other emerging health problems we’re facing, the increase in depression can be linked directly to our diet. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there’s an extremely good chance that it may be a result of a long-term deficiency in unsaturated fatty acids.
Cross-cultural studies have shown that a country’s level of depression has a strong link to the overall amount and kind of fatty acids being consumed. The imbalance between omega-6 fatty acids (from polyunsaturated oils like those from corn, soy, palm, and cottonseed) and omega-3 fatty acids (from fatty fish, flaxseed, and olive oil) are significant.
Research has revealed that countries with the highest consumption of fish have the lowest rates of depression, and vice versa. For example, individuals living in New Zealand eat an average of 40 pounds of fish each year, and 6 percent of their population suffers from depression. On the other hand, individuals in Japan consume an average of about 140 pounds of fish a year, and less than 1 percent of their population suffers from depression. Countries with higher average fish consumption have lower rates of homicide, bipolar disorders, and suicide, in addition to lower rates of depression. In countries where our Western diet, high in processed and fried foods, has been introduced, the incidence of depression goes up correspondingly.
Much of your brain and other nervous tissue is made up of fats. In fact, the cell membranes of nerves contain 20 percent essential fatty acids. It is through these complex and intricate membranes that various charged particles must pass to trigger nerve impulses. If your body is short on the proper raw materials, such as unsaturated fatty acids, then other fats must be used to build and maintain these cell membranes. This can influence the ability of your brain to send and receive signals. If you’re not consuming adequate amounts of essential fatty acids, then you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Fish oil supplements can dramatically improve depression and many of its accompanying symptoms, such as mood swings, insomnia, etc. Fish and omega-3 oils are naturally very successful in treating problems like bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia. Make sure you try a regiment of these supplements if you suffer from these various illnesses as the simple remedy may be in correcting fatty acid and diet deficiency.
Now It's Your Turn: Do you supplement with omega-3 fatty acids regularly?