Changing the diet, namely the rejection of processed foods, sodas, chocolate, sweets and fried takeaways, significantly reduces symptoms of depression, RG reported referring to PLOS ONE.
The fact that healthy eating and sports reduce the risk of depression has long been known in medicine. Independent studies have shown that physical activity reduces risk by 25% and diet by 11%.
Based on these data, scientists at Australian McCarey University have suggested: dietary changes can alleviate the course of the disease in patients who are already suffering from depression.
To confirm this hypothesis, they conducted a study in which 76 students aged 17 to 35 years participated. All volunteers had characteristic symptoms of mild depression, and they all ate foods with a lot of fat and sugar, as well as foods with a high degree of industrial processing. The choice of this age group was due to the fact that young people often suffer from depression, and it is at this stage of life that proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are crucial.
Volunteers were divided into two groups. The participants of the first group continued to lead a habitual life, and the second group, with the help of a nutritionist, switched to the Mediterranean diet: every day the menu contained five servings of vegetables, two or three servings of fruit. And, of course, high-quality protein: fish, tofu, dairy products and eggs, as well as whole grains, olive oil, nuts. In addition, participants refused to use simple carbohydrates, soft drinks and foods high in sugar or fat.
So that the participants in the experiment were not tempted to buy low-quality products out of a desire to save, they were provided with expensive food. In addition, at the end of the study, they were promised a reward for participating in the study. Subjects were then interviewed weekly about their health status. After 21 days, which, according to scientists, is enough to change eating habits and control physical data, both groups were examined using mental, cognitive and medical tests.
The test result showed that those participants who strictly followed the prescribed diet for three weeks significantly decreased depressive symptoms. And after three months, they showed greater stress resistance and a stable mental state compared to the start of the study.
However, scientists noted: while a healthy diet can help treat depression, it is by no means a substitute for psychotherapy or medication.