How you fuel your body may affect your mind, too: Following a Mediterranean diet may help treat depression, a new study from Australia discovered.
The researchers found that 32 per cent of people with moderate to severe depression who started eating a Mediterranean diet experienced a significant decline in depressive symptoms and better mental health after 12 weeks.
The participants received these guidelines for implementing the Mediterranean diet: 5 to 8 servings of whole grains a day; 6 servings of vegetables a day; 3 servings of fruit per day; 2 to 3 servings of low-fat and unsweetened dairy per day; 1 serving of unsalted nuts per day; 3 tablespoons of olive oil per day; 3 to 4 servings of legumes per week; 2 servings of fish per week; 3 to 4 servings of lean red meat per week; 2 to 3 servings of chicken per week; and up to 6 servings of eggs per week. They were also told to reduce extras like sweets, refined cereals, fried food, and sugary drinks.
These diet changes didn’t come with any weight loss, so it seems like the brain benefits of a healthy diet aren’t due to dropping pounds.
The researchers don’t know for sure, but they believe a Mediterranean diet may help improve inflammation and your gut microbiota, two factors which play a role in depression. It’s also possible that the behavioural changes associated with following this diet—say, like cooking and meal prepping—can have therapeutic benefits, too.
While more research needs to be done with a larger sample size to confirm the benefits, the scientists believe these findings suggest tweaking your diet might be an important component of fighting depression.
By Christa Sgobba