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Food & Mood

We all know that when you eat healthy food, you feel better.  It seems logical that a healthy diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and lean proteins will result in good physical and mental health, and studies have already shown this to be the case.  Conversely, there is strong evidence that people with depression typically have unhealthy dietary habits. 

However, a new study by Heather Francis and colleagues from Macquarie University has looked specifically at the effect of diet on young adults aged 17-35.  This group is important to study because firstly, they are establishing health and eating patterns at this age; and secondly, they are at higher risk for depression than the general population. 

The study comprised a three week dietary intervention which included a healthy hamper of food and nutrition advice on the benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet.  They were advised to eat 5 servings of vegetables per day, 2-3 fruits, 3 serves of wholegrain cereals, 2 serves of lean protein, and 3 serves of unsweetened dairy.  They were also advised to eat fish 3 times per week, and include small amounts of nuts and seeds, olive oil and spices (turmeric and cinnamon) each day. They were also instructed to decrease refined carbohydrate, sugar, fatty or processed meats and soft-drinks. 

After three weeks the findings were extremely positive. Participants experiencing mental illness presented with:

  • Significantly fewer symptoms of depression after eating a healthy diet for three weeks
  • Reduction in not only depressive symptoms but anxiety and stress levels too
  • The other positive outcome was that after three weeks, they had managed to maintain the healthy diet changes too. 

The exciting take-away from this study?  It’s possible that you are only three weeks away from a significant shift in mental health just through improving your diet. 

 

It’s important to note that a diet change should be used alongside medical and psychological treatments, however this study is exciting in that it has shown a direct link between diet and depression in young adults. 

The message is clear: reducing processed food intake and increasing fruit, vegetable, lean protein and olive oil consumption will not only improve your health, but your mood too!

For more info on the study,  read here