We all know that what you eat can impact your physical health. Your diet plays a major role in your risk for serious health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. But new research shows it might also play a big part in your mental health.
Depression is common in America. Roughly one in 10 Americans feel the effects of depression, and its prevalence is on the rise. There are a number of reasons—from personal issues to genetics to stress—and it appears diet is also one of them.
Now, I don’t have to tell you that the standard American diet (ironically also known as SAD) is unhealthy. I’ve told you before about the toxicity of a diet high in processed foods that are packed with sugar, salt, and antibiotics, but its role in mental health is a whole new issue altogether.
A recent study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that depression could be closely linked with nutritional deficits, and being that SAD is very low in nutrition, this correlation makes perfect sense.
The study looked at a rather large sample size—nearly 15,100 people—and what kind of diets they adhered to. They paid careful attention to three main diets and monitored how closely they were followed:
- The Mediterranean diet (high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, healthy fats, some meat);
- A pro-vegetarian diet (plant-based food); and
- The Alternative Healthy Eating Index (very close to the Mediterranean)
People who stuck to the Alternative Health Eating model—high in omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts, and moderate alcohol—had the least likelihood of depression, but it was almost the same as the Mediterranean diet (probably because they are so close).
What’s interesting is that a person did not have to adhere to the diet to a tee to get benefits. Therefore, reducing the risk of depression could be as simple as including more healthy foods in your diet. You don’t need to completely flip the way you might currently eat, you just might need to make a few adjustments a couple of times a day to improve how you feel.
To naturally treat depression or reduce your risk of mental illness, here are a few things to try:
- Eat fewer processed meats
- Limit food items like sweets, chips, and crackers
- Include more nutrient-dense vegetables into your diet like spinach, kale, bell peppers, and tomatoes; aim for four servings of vegetables per day
- Try having a couple of servings of fruit per day. Berries, apples, pears, and citrus are great options. Having a serving with breakfast is an easy habit to adopt, and finding room for one more throughout the day can have big benefits
- Snacking on a handful of roasted or raw almonds, peanuts, cashews, or walnuts—or adding them to a salad, yogurt, or bowl of berries—is a great way to include valuable fats and nutrition in your diet
- Foods like flax seed, salmon, mackerel, and herring are essential for omega-3, so try to eat at least two servings of fish per week. If you don’t like the taste, take a fish oil supplement
- Use olive oil for salad dressings to boost your intake of healthy fats
Source for Today’s Article:
“Fruit and vegetables aren’t only good for a healthy body; they protect your mind too,” ScienceDaily web site, September 16, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916215535.htm.