A better diet reduces depression
According to a meta-analysis published in April covering 16 studies with over 45,000 study participants, dietary interventions significantly reduced depressive symptoms.
A simple message
This is convincing evidence for cutting back on junk food and switching to a nutrient-rich diet for mental wellbeing.
The researchers didn't find any significant differences between the effectiveness of healthy eating interventions.
"However, this is perhaps unsurprising, because although the primary aims of the interventions did vary, the actual content of the all dietary intervention generally hold some common features, such as aiming to reduce the intake of “junk” foods (e.g., high-fat, high-sugar discretionary foods and takeaways), while replacing these with high-fiber, nutrient-dense alternatives, such as vegetables."
The food-mood connection
A number of ways that food could affect mood were proposed:
1. Increased fruits and vegetables containing polyphenols with anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and prebiotic properties.
2. B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, minerals (e.g. zinc, magnesium) and fibre (e.g. resistant starch) as well as other bioactive components (e.g. probiotics), may also be protective from mental illness.
3. Reducing processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and other inflammatory foods associated with increased risk for depression.
4. Reduced intake of saturated fatty acids, artificial sweeteners, and emulsifiers which may alter the gut microbiome and activate inflammatory pathways.
The authors concluded that the review...
"...strongly suggests that diet can play a role in the treatment and also self-management of depressive symptoms across the population."
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