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Is Fasting the New Antidepressant

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg April 11, 2020

Could fasting be the new antidepressant?

I believe so. It’s a powerful way to counter depression, for a variety of reasons that I’ll explain.

a hand-lettered sign that reads intermittent fasting


In this article, I’ll cover:

Keep reading - you don’t want to miss this.

 

Fasting Is A Serious Contender To Combat Depression

Fasting is a serious contender for a highly effective antidepressant that’s free from traditional antidepressant drugs and their side-effects. In fact, fasting comes with minimal side effects such as dizziness and fatigue, but these are usually temporary and occur when you’re transitioning into fasting.

By contrast, you can experience incredible benefits from fasting if you suffer from the common mood disorder known as depression.

a photo of a depressed young man in a black cloud


You probably associate fasting with weight loss. And it’s true - fasting will help you lose weight. But in this article, I’ll focus on a fascinating study which provides scientific evidence that fasting improves your mood.

Let’s take a look at the top four findings.

 

#1 Increases Orexin Signalling Activity

Orexin is a chemical in your body that increases wakefulness. With sufficient levels of orexin, you’ll feel more awake and alert. By contrast, when you’re depressed you feel dulled down and drowsy.

As well, orexin will help increase your levels of dopamine, one of the so-called feel good brain chemicals that helps you feel happy and optimistic. Low levels, by comparison, cause sadness and despair.

Often, when people start fasting, they start feeling happier and more energetic after the initial period when their body is adapting to using a fatty acid called ketones for fuel. Ketones are produced when you fast, as well as when you’re on the keto diet. In fact, ketones are the reason why the diet is formally called the ketogenic diet.

#2 Boosts Release Of Endorphins

Fasting increases the release of endorphins in your body. Endorphins provide a sensation of euphoria, or pleasure, while also decreasing the sensation of pain. Concurrently, many people’s inflammation and pain subsides when they fast. Because pain can contribute to your depression, ridding yourself of it can be helpful.

a happy young black couple


#3 Increases Serotonin Via CREB-TF

The compound known as CREB-TF signals certain genes that promote the release of another feel-good chemical called serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are associated with people who have major depressive disorder, as are low levels of CREB-TF.

Fasting increases CREB-TF and hence serotonin.

#4 Boosts A Chemical Nicknamed Miracle-GroTM For Your Brain

Fasting has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is like Miracle-GroTM for your brain. It will help you grow new brain cells as well as act as an antidepressant when its levels are increased.

 

Why Fasting Is Safer Than Antidepressants

Fasting gives you valuable help with your depression. And let’s take a look at the flip side: antidepressant medications come with a range of serious side effects, including nausea, loss of sexual desire, and insomnia. Not to mention covering up the real causes of depression, which are complex and include a combination of faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.

When you start taking antidepressant medications, over time you require higher doses because your body adapts to them, lessening their effectiveness. Or, you may need to add different medications because your original ones no longer work as well.

So, why not try something that’s very safe, effective, and natural?

Additional Steps That Will Help With Your Depression

Along with fasting, there are additional steps you can take to help with your depression.

I recommend taking fish oil or cod liver oil filled with the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA , which are known to have antidepressive effects. So too does vitamin D.

a photo of two golden capsules of omega 3 fatty acids on a white background


You can also increase your intake of the essential nutrient choline.. Choline occurs naturally in eggs, making them a good source not only for choline but for other nutrients that can improve your mood.

Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant in addition to its antidepressant qualities, and is found in turmeric.

As well, there is evidence that a high fat diet can help with depression. If we take a look at the opposite situation, people on low-fat diets are more prone to increase their risk of developing or worsening their depression (and other cognitive problems). Healthy KetoTM is a high-fat diet that can help.

All of these reasons are why I recommend intermittent fasting to help with depression.

There’s no reason for you to slog through life feeling depressed and dejected. Fasting can help, and I urge you to try it.

If you’re new to my channel, and you’re wondering how to get started don’t worry! I put together an introductory video about intermittent fasting to get you off to a quick and successful start.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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