A new study has found that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, rather than processed meats, can help prevent the onset on depression.
• Experts reveal what to eat and what not to eat to defeat depression.
• Experts explain how a subject’s diet affected their mental health during the study.
• Experts explain the mechanisms of how healthy diets improve people’s mental health.
Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, study author and field expert from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, gave a statement saying that people who would like to lower their chances of experiencing depression “can eat everything, but everything in moderation” as long as they make sure to add a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish to their diets.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that they should avoid processed meats and fast food products at all costs.
For their study, a team of researchers from Spain surveyed 15.000 university graduates two (2) separate times, once at the beginning of the scientific project, and a second time, 10 years later. None of the subjects had ever suffered from depression before filling out the first questionnaire.
The students were asked about their diets, what they normally ate and what they normally avoided. The researchers then used this information to establish how closely each subject’s everyday diet adhered to one (1) or more of the three (3) known healthy patterns.
All three (3) dietary patterns rely heavily on the high consumption of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and fish. All three (3) of them also rely heavily on avoiding processed meats.
Eight and a half (8.5) years after the initial survey, 1.550 of the 15.000 subjects reported either receiving a depression diagnostic or taking antidepressant drugs.
After examining the second round of questionnaires, Sanchez-Villegas and his colleagues realized that the subjects who held on to their healthy eating patterns to a high or a moderate degree, were more unlikely to develop depression than those who abandoned their healthy eating patterns in the years between surveys, and those who held on to them to a low degree.
For instance, the subjects who followed the Mediterranean diet to a moderate degree were 25 percent (25%) to 30 percent (30%) less likely to develop depression, compared to the subjects who abandoned their healthy eating patterns, and the subjects who only held on to them to a low degree.
Sanchez-Villegas explained that “Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns […] was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression”.
It’s worth mentioning however, that the research team did not see the benefit increase any further for the subjects who held on to their healthy eating patterns to a high degree. They experienced the same likelihood of developing depression as the subjects who held on to their healthy eating patterns to a moderate degree.
While the researchers have no definitive answer for how healthy diets improve people’s mental health, that does not mean that they don’t have any theories.
One possible explanation is that those who adhere to healthy eating patterns have fewer chances of developing depression because they have better levels of micronutrients such as vitamin B, zinc or folate.
The study was published earlier this week, on Wednesday (September 16, 2015), in the journal BMC Medicine.
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