Can I fight depression with nutrition?

Cut down on sweets. Eating too much sugar stimulates a surge in insulin, which can cause glucose levels to fall dramatically—and the brain is fueled almost entirely by glucose. Fluctuations in blood glucose levels can cause mood disturbances.

Get your vitamins. Ample supplies of vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin D, and many B vitamins, are critical for mental health.

Get your minerals. Zinc and magnesium, for example, play an important role in helping the brain modulate mood.

Don’t starve yourself of protein and fat. A shortfall in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, can make it difficult for the brain to synthesize the chemicals it needs to fend off emotional distress. At the same time, the brain is a fatty organ and cannot function without cholesterol and essential fatty acids. A deficiency of either can be dangerous to your mental health.

James Greenblatt, M.D., is medical director of eating disorder services at Walden Behavioral Care, in Waltham, Massachusetts, and author of the Breakthrough Depression Solution.

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