Depression is a highly prevalent mental disorder affecting more than 300 million people worldwide. It’s believed that women are more likely to suffer from depression than men but it affects people of every age, background and ethnicity.
What you eat may not cure your depression, but there’s new evidence that a healthy diet can treat the symptoms.
Over a 3-month period, researchers in Australia and New Zealand conducted a study of 67 individuals suffering from moderate to severe depression. These people were chosen as well because of their diets, which were heavy in sugar and based on refined or processed and fried foods.
For 12 weeks half the participants followed a treatment program in which they received one-on-one counseling with a dietician, and followed a diet consisting of whole foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins, including fish. The other half received social support but did not change their diet.
At the end of the trial, the dieters showed greatly reduced symptoms when compared to the other group. In addition, more than 32 percent of participants experienced remission, so were no longer considered depressed.
Researchers concluded that a diet higher in plant foods and lean proteins may be associated with a reduced risk for depression, while diets that include more processed food and sugary products are associated with an increased risk of depression.*
Some foods to combat depression:
Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, millet, quinoa, whole-grain barley, rolled oats, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread, wild rice
Lean proteins: fish, ground sirloin, skinless white meat of turkey and chicken, eggs
Fruits and fruit juices (check the sugar content)
Legumes: beans, nuts, peas, lentils
Dark, leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, red, green and Romaine lettuce
Some foods to avoid:
Refined grains: Foods that contain refined grains include corn bread, white rice, white bread, grits, flour and corn tortillas, couscous, crackers, pretzels, noodles, spaghetti, corn flakes and macaroni.
Refined sugar: These foods provide few nutrients and can promote a crash in energy levels. Refined sugar includes candy, regular soda pop, syrups, table sugar, cakes, cookies, pies, sweet rolls, pastries, fruit drinks and dairy desserts.
Highly processed or refined oils, such as safflower or corn oil, are high in omega-6 fatty acids and can influence symptoms of depression.