The Mediterranean Diet (MD) is well known for its cardiovascular health and longevity benefits. However, a new study has shown the MD is also beneficial for overcoming symptoms of depression.
After 12 weeks of following a MD study participants with major depression and who had poor dietary quality before the study reported significant improvements in mood and related symptoms.
The primary focus of the study was increasing diet quality by supporting the consumption of the following 12 key food groups characteristic of a MD:
- whole grains (5–8 servings per day)
- vegetables (6 per day)
- fruit (3 per day)
- legumes (3–4 per week)
- low-fat and unsweetened dairy foods (2–3 per day)
- raw and unsalted nuts (1 per day)
- fish (at least 2 per week)
- lean red meats (3–4 per week)
- chicken (2–3 per week)
- eggs (up to 6 per week)
- olive oil (3 tablespoons per day)
Such foods were increased whilst reducing intake of sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast-food, processed meats and sugary drinks and alcoholic sprits/beers (no more than 3 per week). Finally, red and white wine consumption up to 2 standards drinks daily as allowed.
The dietary composition of the test diet was:
- Fat 40%
- Carbohydrates 37%
- Protein 18%
- Fibre/other 3%
- Alcohol 2%
In regards to the effect of diet on mood, the authors of the study stated:
‘There are many other biological pathways by which dietary improvement may influence depressive illness; previous discussions have centred on inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways, as well as brain plasticity and the new evidence base focused on the gut microbiota. Each of these pathways is suggested to play a role in depression and is also influenced by diet quality. Moreover, behavioural changes associated with food (cooking/shopping/meal patterns) are an expected outcome of a nutrition intervention, and these changes in activity may also have had a therapeutic benefit.”
Overall this study shows diet is key in the treatment of mental health disorders (too often overlooked!!) and enjoying a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats while cutting back on refined sugar and junk foods is most beneficial.
Casey Dick | Passionate Dedicated Natural Nutritionist | Brisbane, Australia, Dietary Nutritionist, Healthy Body and Mind Advocate, Natural Hormone Balance & Healthy Weight Loss, Natural Skin Health, Anorexia, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Thyroid, Non-dieting Approach, Gut Health, Nutritionist specialises in PCOS, Why can’t I lose weight, Weight Loss Resistance