Eating to improve depression – lessons from the scientists

I love it when research comes out that once again confirms the role that diet plays in good health. Seriously, it makes me do a bit of a happy dance. Us naturopaths are always speaking about how what you eat can change your life, especially when looking at mental health and way of eating to improve depression. Scientists at Deakin University are proving this with this great research.

The legendary Professor Felice Jacka from Deakin University and her team have recently published a study showing how a good, happy diet can treat major depression. This was the first randomised controlled trial ever carried out on this topic (that’s the GOLD STANDARD in research standards).

The trial showed that eating a Mediterranean Diet, rich in plant-based foods, nuts, seeds, legumes, small amounts of low-fat dairy and animal produce can vastly improve serious depression. The results published in the international journal BMC Medicine helped a number of people feel better in themselves, combat depression and undoubtedly help their bodies be healthier by eating a better, nutritionally balanced diet.

My role as their nutritionist is not in prescribing that magic pill to fix their problems (these don’t exist by the way), but to empower them to look after themselves, realising that they hold the key to their health – often in their weekly shopping basket.

Every client that comes into my clinic gets a thorough investigation into their diet, regardless of their presenting condition. My role as their nutritionist is not in prescribing that magic pill to fix their problems (these don’t exist by the way), but to empower them to look after themselves, realising that they hold the key to their health – often in their weekly shopping basket.

Studies like this one prove that what you eat really can change so much.

During this study the participants ate:

  • Every day at least six servings of vegetables, five servings of whole-grains, three servings of fruit, two servings of unsweetened dairy, one serving of raw, unsalted nuts, and three tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Every week their animal protein intake was limited to the following:  Three servings of lean red meat, two servings of chicken, up to six eggs, and at least two servings of fish.
  • They were not allowed to eat more than three servings of processed foods, including sweets, refined cereal, fried food, fast food and soft drink, and no more than two glasses of red wine a day at dinner time.

This Mediterranean Diet is similar to The Mind Diet which has also been proven to help mental health. It really does go to show how important good nutrition is to good health – physical and mental and emotional wellbeing.

This diet is easily modified into a healthy plant-based diet as well – skipping the animal products, keeping the eggs (if you’re vegetarian) and eating legumes and unprocessed plant-based protein if you’re vegan.

It just goes to show that a happy diet, filled with bright coloured and seasonal produce really can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

 

Hannah Boyd is a nutritionist and herbal medicine practitioner in Sydney’s Inner West. She specialises in wholefood eating, mental health, plant-based diets and hormone balancing. Book an appointment with her today to gain the tools you need to develop a healthy, balanced approach with your plate.

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