A new study has revealed yet another health benefit of eating fish – it fights off depression and improves a person’s overall mood. Just make sure to eat lots of it.
To reach this conclusion, a team of researchers looked at 26 previously conducted studies, leading up to a total of 150.278 subjects. The studies offered a full perspective as ten (10) of them were conducted in Europe, seven (7) in the United States, and the rest in South America, Asia and Oceania. The team was interested in investigation the relationship between fish based meals and depression.
The European studies showed that subjects who had a diet rich in fish lowered their risk of experiencing depression by 17 percent (17%), compared to subjects who ate little to no fish. A note from the study reads as follows: “Higher fish consumption may be beneficial in the primary prevention of depression”.
When the researchers split these subjects in groups of men and women, they saw that men who had a diet rich in fish lowered their risk of experiencing depression by 20 percent (20%), compared to men who ate little to no fish.
As for women, those who had a diet rich in fish only lowered their risk of experiencing depression by 16 percent (16%), compared to women who ate little to no fish.
Fang Li, study author and field expert from Qingdao University (Shandong, China), gave a statement stressing that the benefit of a diet rich in fish was only found in the subjects from Europe. Members of no other country seemed to share it, but Fang Li theorized that “This might [be] because a smaller number of participants cannot reach statistical significance easily”.
It’s also important to point out that the study was purely observational. The research team did not ask any subjects to eat less or more fish so that they can later perform test and document the change. What this means is that the experts can not prove a cause and effect link, only an association.
What’s more, the researchers had no information on what type on fish each subject consumed or what fish based dishes they indulged in. Fang Li admitted that he and his colleagues need to conduct further research as this type of data can easily change the current results, reveal a hidden pattern, or show that certain types of fish prevent depression while others may even cause it.
The research team could not say for certain why eating a lot of fish lowers one’s risk of experiencing depression, however they have a few theories. One of them says that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have already been proven to alter the brain cell membrane structures, and that that’s what happening.
Another theory is that fish meat has many other fatty acids that change the activity of the dopamine neurotransmitter and the serotonin neurotransmitter. The researchers informed that both of them are suspected of playing a role in the onset of depression.
And a third theory is that people who prefer to eat fish are generally more health oriented, adopt better overall diets and hit the gym more often. Fang Li explained that diets that are rich in fish “may also be related to a healthier diet and better nutritional status, which could contribute to the lower risk of depression”.
The study was published earlier this week, on Thursday (September 10, 2015), in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
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