Research Review: Diet and Depression
A new study published last week in the journal BMC Medicine (Sanchez-Villegas et al., 2015) adds to the growing body of evidence linking depression symptoms and nutrition status. Study results indicate a significant connection between healthy dietary pattern and prevention of depression symptoms. Specifically, they found that dietary patterns including higher levels of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and lower intakes of processed meats and sweets were linked to lower levels of depression.
This study followed 15,093 people over a 10-year period and found that 1,550 participants had a diagnosis of depression or took antidepressant drugs during the study period. They analyzed the diets trends of all participants at the start and end of the study period and found diet trends that were connected to presence or absence of depression symptoms. This adds further support to the hypothesis that what we eat has an impact on our mental health. People who eat foods high in micronutrients, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids tend to have better mental health than those who are deficient in these nutrients.
The lead author of this study concluded that, “The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet. Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression.” This is excellent news for people who want to avoid depression, as well as people currently struggling with depression symptoms. Making even small dietary changes to establish a moderately health diet including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes can lead to positive symptoms changes.
Sanchez-Villegas, A., Henriquez-Sanchez, P., Ruiz-Canela, M., Lahortiga, F., Molero, P., Toledo, E., & Martinez-Gonzalez, M.A. (2015). A longitudinal analysis of diet quality scores and the risk of incident depression in the SUN Project. BMC Medicine, 13. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/13/197