*WINNER* Association between a Healthy and Balanced Nutritional Intake in Relation to Self-Care and Depression
Depression is a mental illness that can negatively impact one’s overall quality of life. As of 2017, more than 300 million people across the globe and 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced symptoms of depression. The purpose of this review of literature is to explore the association between a healthy and balanced nutritional intake with self-care and depression. A deficiency in antioxidants, a shift in oxidative stress markers, and inflammatory markers in the body act as modifiable risk factors for depression. The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects; obesity, smoking, sleep deprivation, and poor diet choices are lifestyle and psychological stressors that can be combated by the anti-inflammatory effects of this diet. The adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN), identified to have a direct influence on cognitive abilities and mood, can be regulated to prevent decreased AHN, which coincides with depressive behaviors. Also, nutritional psychiatry is a new field of research that could lead to influential dietary approaches for disease prevention and exploration of therapeutic goals for mental illnesses, such as depression. Increased awareness is needed and socially normalizing depression and mental illnesses should be advocated for and promoted by policy makers, health care providers, family members, and educator figures in order for further research to be conducted to explore in what ways nutrition can affect self-care when diagnosed with depression.