5 dietary changes to improve depression

Last month, Chinese researchers published an editorial in the Journal of Psychiatry and Behaviour Therapy reporting in the use of diet in treating depression.

The researchers summarized some of the recent, existing research in the field. They highlighted that generally healthy diets are connected to lower depression rates and unhealthy diets are connected to higher depression rates:

Systematic reviews on dietary pattern and depression recently showed that healthy diet such as Mediterranean dietary pattern was positive and significant decrease the risk of depression, whereas unhealthy diet was negatively related to risk of depression.

That’s because healthy diets provide the brain with the nutrients it needs to function properly:

Nutrition has the self-evidenced impacts on brain and moods, because the brain has the highest energy and substances metabolic rate in order to maintain its structures and functions.

Also, they noted that psychological and physiological disorders are increasing and become more interconnected:

Metabolic diseases and depression side by side have been becoming two epidemic diseases worldwide. This may indicate that . . . physiological diseases could induce psychological diseases by causing poor quality of life, limiting social function or reducing performance at work. . . . Healthy diets, which were well testified to benefit diseases like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, should benefit depression at the same time.

In conclusion, the researchers proposed 5 dietary recommendations as a public approach for managing depression.

  1. Follow a ‘traditional’ or “prudent” diet, such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian, or Japanese traditional diet.
  2. Follow DASH diet designed for hypertension and for overall health.
  3. Follow plant-based diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds.
  4. Choose whole foods instead of refined foods.
  5. Turn away from Western-style diet of processed-foods, ‘fast’ foods, commercial baked goods, and sweets.

This study joins a growing body of research showing a strong connection between nutrition and mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.