There are several ways to treat depression, and your diet might be one of them, according to a new report.
Researchers from the University College London recently conducted an study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, to explore the role of nutrition in depression.
To do so, they examined 41 observational trials on the topic, which included data on more than 32,000 adults. The participants followed a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is rich in plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, olive oil and fish.
After analyzing the results, they found the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 33 percent reduced risk of depression, compared with diets unlike it.
“There is compelling evidence to show that there is a relationship between the quality of your diet and your mental health,” lead author Camille Lassale said in a statement. “This relationship goes beyond the effect of diet on your body size or other aspects of health that can in turn affect your mood.”
They also revealed a pro-inflammatory diet was linked to a higher risk of depression. They defined a pro-inflammatory diet as one that typically has high amounts of sugar, processed foods and saturated fat.
“A pro-inflammatory diet can induce systemic inflammation, and this can directly increase the risk for depression,” Lassale explained. “There is also emerging evidence that shows that the relationship between the gut and brain plays a key role in mental health and that this axis is modulated by gastrointestinal bacteria, which can be modified by our diet.”
The scientists believe their findings prove dietary counseling should be a part of doctor's office visits. They also said there is an “urgent need” for more studies that examine dietary changes and mental health.
They concluded, “By showing that an adherence to healthy dietary patterns is associated with a reduced risk of depressive disorders, we contribute to the growing body of evidence regarding the importance of our daily diets to our mental and brain health.”