The Mediterranean diet may protect against depression, according to new research presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting.
We know from previous studies that the Mediterranean Diet has been associated with reduced depressive symptoms and may even improve depression in those who already suffer from it. Food can affect our mood in different ways: the wrong diet can cause damage to our brain through oxidative stress, insulin resistance and inflammation, while the right diet can protect our brain but also affect the way we react to stress.
Researchers from the Hellenic Open University in Greece, conducted a cross-sectional study among the members of day-care centers for older people, Greece. The data showed that 64% adhered to the Mediterranean diet with 34% showing high adherence. About one-quarter screened positive for depressive symptoms.
The lead author Konstantinos Argyropoulos, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues found that a diet higher in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol was associated with decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression later in life. The authors came to the conclusion that depression in older adults is common and strongly associated with several risk factors, and that adherence to a Mediterranean diet may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in older age.
It is important to note that this type of study does not prove cause and effect, although we know that certain nutrients in the Mediterranean diet such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, and probiotics are associated with better mood and better health generally. And let’s not forget that the Mediterranean diet is considered a lifestyle that includes physical activity and social connections, not just food.
Bottom Line: Follow a plant based diet and avoid processed foods for added protection against depression and dementia.
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