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Mediterranean diet 'key to combating depression'

27 September 2018 08:19

A Mediterranean diet could reduce your risk of depression

A Mediterranean diet could reduce your risk of depression

Holidaymakers heading to Southern Europe for some autumn sun will be pleased to know that a Mediterranean diet could help prevent depression.

A study published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal found eating a diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, plant-based food and fish could cut the risk of developing depression by around a third.

Meanwhile, a diet high in saturated fat, sugar and processed food could increase the likelihood of individuals suffering from depression.

Inflammatory foods

The researchers analysed data from 41 studies, including four which examined the link between a traditional Mediterranean diet and mental health among 36,556 adults.

People who most closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a 33% lower risk of developing depression over the next eight to 12 years, they found, compared to those whose diet least resembled it.

Five of the studies looked at the impact of an inflammatory foods diet on mental health in 32,908 adults across the world.

A diet low in saturated fat, sugar and processed food was linked with a 24% reduced risk of developing depression over the next five to 12 years.

Compelling evidence

Lead author Dr Camille Lassale, from the department of epidemiology and public health at UCL said: "There is compelling evidence to show that there is a relationship between the quality of your diet and your mental health.

"This relationship goes beyond the effect of diet on your body size or other aspects of health that can in turn affect your mood.

"We aggregated results from a large number of studies and there is a clear pattern that following a healthier, plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help in the prevention of depression."

Dr Lassale added: "A pro-inflammatory diet can induce systemic inflammation, and this can directly increase the risk for depression.

"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."

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