Healthy Beginnings

Control anxiety, depression with better eating habits

An inflammatory diet increases the risk of depression, studies show.

As we live our everyday lives, we see almost everybody through their external masks. The question “what is going on in a person’s mind?” signifies the understanding that a great number are plagued with mental health issues, and this affects various levels of our society.

We may think people are living a normal life, but in the corners of their deeper self, they may be suffering from their own personal darkness.

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health issues Americans face. According to statistics:

  • Approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder.
    • Approximately 20.9 million American adults have a mood disorder. This includes depression.

Our gut is considered our second brain due to the amount of nerve cells it contains, which is almost comparable to the amount the spinal cord has. Healthy bacteria live here, and they are responsible for producing substances that may either protect or harm our brain depending on what we eat to feed them with.

It has been noted that a combination of a vegetarian diet and the intake of probiotics can lower the incidence of depression and anxiety — proving that our “gut allies” play a major role in our mental health, according to a 2012 study in “The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine.”

Approaching mental health treatment in a natural way is achievable. This makes prescription drugs not the only solution for this problem. Here are some ways on how to do it:


  1. Sweet orange essential oil aromatherapy lowers anxiety better than prescription drugs. This produces less sedation and provides more energy, according to the study, “Inflammatory dietary pattern and risk of depression among women,” published in a 2014 edition of “Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.”
  2. Lavender and Lorazepam were compared in a 6-week study published in the “Journal of Mental Science,” which reported that lavender has better anxiety-lowering capability. It also gives a “non hangover effect” with less potential for abuse (the journal does note that Lavender may have estrogen-promoting effects).


  1. An inflammatory diet increases the risk of depression, according to a study published in the “Biological Psychiatry” journal. Examples of these are soda, refined grains and meat. Plant-based diets lower C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker in the blood) by 30 percent in less than 2 weeks due to the antioxidants it contains.
  2. Aspartame found in artificial sweeteners and drinks have been proven to increase depression by its role in modulating dopamine and serotonin. The vulnerable population is the one who has depression. A study was conducted in 2010 to prove this theory, with results published in the “International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology.” During the first part, the study was halted by an ethics committee’s decision in relation to the severity of the side effects (nausea, headaches, insomnia, forgetfulness and worsening of depression) that were being manifested by the depressed subjects.

Natural remedies are here to stay as first-line remedies for mental health issues, considering the benefits they bring when compared to prescription medications.

This now paves the way for an approach that will put the glow back in our outlook in life and offer the inner happiness that we all deserve.

Melvin Ibarra Nario, MD, HMD is a physician at Bio Integrative Health Center International in Reno. Visit or call 775-827-6696 to learn more.