Is diet and depressionrelated to each other? Can a better diet help in overcoming depression? Well, a study by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney found that young men who switched to a healthy diet, especially a healthy Mediterranean diet, had much improvement in symptoms of depression.
Lead researcher Jessica Bayes, a PhD candidate in the UTS Faculty of Health, said the study was the first randomised clinical trial to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men (aged 18-25).
He said that those assigned to the Mediterranean diet were able to significantly change their original diets, under the guidance of a nutritionist, over a short time frame. The author also mentioned that the study shows that doctors and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important component of treating clinical depression.
Nutritional psychiatry that aims to explore the effect that specific nutrients, foods and dietary patterns is a new area of medication. The diet used in the study was rich in colourful vegetables, legumes and wholegrain, oily fish, olive oil and unsalted nuts.
The primary focus was on increasing diet quality with fresh whole foods while reducing the intake of ‘fast foods, sugar and processed red meat,” Bayes said.
“There are lots of reasons why we think food affects mood. For example, around 90 per cent of serotonin, a chemical that helps feeling happy, is made in the gut by gut microbes. There is emerging evidence that these microbes can communicate to the brain, in what is called the gut-brain axis.”
To have beneficial microbes, we need to feed them fibre, which is found in legumes, fruits and vegetables,” she said.