Depression is a growing concern.

Depression is a growing concern and has been since just after World War II. At first glance, this doesn’t make since. Why were we becoming more depressed in this season? We had just won a war, our men were coming home, the economy was strengthening after the Great Depression, and we were in an age of opportunity. What was there to be sad about? Was it coincidental that the food industry was changing and becoming more industrialized alongside the increase in depressive episodes and physician reported incidences of depression in their patients? I think not.

This is more than just a medical issue; this is a political and economic issue as well. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide among 15-44 year old’s.(1) That is the prime age of the workforce. So if they aren’t employed, how are they surviving? Government funded programs are funding their lifestyles and their medical care in most cases. This is an unsustainable trend that needs an immediate intervention before systems are completely bankrupt. Health Coach Tulsa is committed to helping as many clients as possible through empowerment and education about nourishment beyond weight loss and into the impact of food on all aspects of life.

Health Coach Tulsa recognizes the connection between nutrition and mood to empower the client to fuel their bodies and minds for the desired outcome. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for pharmaceuticals but it is medical negligence to ignore nutrition as a possible contributing factor to mental state. “The fog has lifted”  or  “I feel lighter” are common testimonies after experiencing the Gut Revolution – 4 Weeks to Food Freedom plan that eliminates so many inflammatory foods and increases awareness of nutrient dense whole foods such as those included in the following study.

The World Journal of Psychiatry conducted research to identify profiles for 34 nutrients known to be essential for humans to score the foods highest in nutrient density with clinical evidence to combat depressive disorders.(1) Out of those 34 nutrients, 5 specific nutrients were items of focus for their connection to depression.

The following 12 nutrients are identified in the pathophysiology of depression and are also recognized as fairly deficient in traditional Western dietary patterns.

12 Nutrients Impacting Depression Expression

  1. Long-chained omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
  2. Folate
  3. Iron
  4. Magnesium
  5. Potassium
  6. Selenium
  7. Thiamine
  8. Vitamin A
  9. Vitamin B6
  10. Vitamin B12
  11. Vitamin C
  12. Zinc

The outcome of the study was the creation of the Antidepressant Food Score. This score was created by a formula that determined the density of the above mentioned nutritional components. The more concentration of those 12 the more antidepressant nutritional mechanisms were available. Oysters and bivalves ranked the highest animal foods and leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables were highest plant foods. Most of these nutritional components are found in the Mediterranean Nutritional landscape.

The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to have the ability to reduce the risk of developing depression by greater than 30%. The SMILES (Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) trial was a randomized controlled trial to treat Major Depressive Disorder with Mediterranean diet as an adjunct treatment. The results were an astounding 31% achieving remission compared to the placebo.(1) Moral of the story:


Mental status and brain function has been known to be strongly influenced by nutrition through several mechanisms and Tulsa Health Coach works with clients to interrupt every one. The Antidepressant Food Score chart is a great place to begin work with a client that is exploring options to fix nutrition and overcome their depressed state of mind. (Note: antidepressant medications should only be discontinued under the supervision of your physician and never abruptly quit. A titration schedule to wean off is the appropriate method for prevention of negative side effects.)  The incorporation of the AFS foods is used in adjunct if a pharmaceutical intervention has already been established. These foods are also tools that help interrupt the pathways of influence or messages between the fork and feelings of general sadness.

Without further ado, let’s get our “Happy” grocery lists ready.

Antidepressant Animal Foods AFS Range Antidepressant Plant Foods AFS Range
Oyster 56% Watercress 127%
Liver/Organ Meats 18%-38% Spinach 97%
Poultry Giblets 31% Mustard, turnip, beet greens 76% – 93%
Clam 30% Lettuces 74%-99%
Mussels 28% Swiss Chard 90%
Octopus 27% Fresh Herbs 73%-75%
Crab 24% Chicory Greens 74%
Goat 23% Pummelo 69%
Tuna 15%-21% Peppers 39%-56%
Smelt 20% Kale or Collards 48%-62%
Fish Roe 19% Pumpkin 46%
Bluefish 19% Dandelion Greens 43%
Wolffish 19% Cauliflower 41%-42%
Pollock 18% Kohlrabi 41%
Lobster 17% Red Cabbage 41%
Rainbow Trout 16%-17% Broccoli 41%
Snail or Whelk 16% Brussels Sprouts 35%
Spot Fish 16% Acerola 34%
Salmon 10%-16% Butternut Squash 34%
Herring 16% Papaya 31%
Emu 16% Lemon 31%
Snapper 16% Strawberry 31%

One may think Vegans and Vegetarians must be the happiest people on Earth according to the antidepressant nutrient concentration percentages found in plant foods. However, one must also consider the lack of B vitamins which can prevent the ability to turn that frown upside down. Supplementation is a necessary tool in the box to get the therapeutic levels of B vitamins lacking in nutrition for Tulsa Health Coach and incredible amounts of research has been done to source only the best for our clients. Definitely a future article so be on the look-out for it!

So, here is the short of it all. Food impacts your mood through different mechanisms and the mission is to make sure all are pointed to positive. One of the most powerful shifts to positive is the food you choose. Out of 34 essential nutrients to humans, 12 are directly linked to impacting depression. Future food for thought: doesn’t do much good to eat the antidepressant foods if your gut is leaky and can’t absorb them. This mechanism of impact is covered in the Gut Revolution and will be published soon!

Stay curious my friends and don’t forget your new “HAPPY” grocery list next time you head to the store or click add to cart!