You Are What You Eat: Have Researchers Finally Found the Perfect Diet to Cure Depression?
Mental health issues affect millions across the United States, with Mental Health America reporting that over 44 million Americans suffer from anxiety, depression or some other neurological condition. While anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the country seeing as they affect at least 40 million people, depression isn’t that far behind.
According to a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, 17.3 million adults had presented with depression in the past year alone. If this tally is an annual trend, you see why the condition is as significant as an anxiety disorder, don’t you? And unfortunately, depression is a global problem, with the WHO reporting that over 300 million people in the world are depressed.
Numerous studies have been conducted to find new ways of combating depression, with a recent one in Australia discovering that sticking to a healthy diet could alleviate some of the symptoms that tag along.
The study’s report appeared in PLOS One (the journal), revealing that the study group included males and females aged between 17 and 35 living with depression. Three weeks into sticking to healthy feeding, the participants reported fewer symptoms. Those who kept at it for at least three months reported feeling better than they ever had in ages, and certainly better than they were feeling at the beginning of the study.
Macquarie University’s Heather Francis was the study’s lead researcher and was quick to point out that their results have a 100% reach. Doesn’t everyone need food? She continued to say that eating healthy is considerably cheaper than buying antidepressants, with its other benefit being that it’s a treatment option entirely under the patient’s control.
Speaking to Reuters, Francis said that their results prove that proper diet can be used as therapy for patients suffering from depression. Thinking about it, her argument makes a lot of sense, and in addition to being great for one’s mental health, a healthy diet also does wonders for your physical health.
Francis and her team had a study group comprised of 76 individuals, all of whom scored high on anxiety and depression scales. To be incorporated into the study, a willing participant also had to score high on sugar consumption and dietary fat, with these being measured via a questionnaire.
The Mediterranean Diet
The participants were then assigned to either habitual-diet or diet-change groups, with all of them receiving a video with instructions on how they were to eat for the next three weeks. The instructions came from a registered dietitian and conformed to guidelines from the Mediterranean diet as well as the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating established in 2003.
If you are familiar with any of these, then you know that the diet included among other things an increased vegetable intake (5 servings daily), fruits (3 servings daily), lean protein (3 servings), and fish (3 servings). Participants were also required to consume three tbsp. of nuts & seeds daily, as well as two tbsp. of olive oil and a tbsp. each of cinnamon and turmeric.
Obviously, they were to decrease the intake of soft drinks, processed meats, sugars and refined carbohydrates. Thankfully, the research team provided them with everything they would need for the entirety of the study period, leading to conclusive findings.
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