For further information please also check out the Depression, Anxiety & The Mediterranean Diet episode of The Kale Brock Show here for free on iTunes! 

Deakin University has released trial data showing for the first time that improving diet quality can treat major depression. In this monumental study, the connection between mental health and diet, which has been known and talked about for years now, was confirmed. With 1 million Australians currently suffering from depression, and a further 2 million living with anxiety, this study could not have come at a better time.

Director of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre, Professor Felice Jacka, explains further.

“We’ve known for some time that there is a clear association between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression,” she said.

“This is the case across countries, cultures and age groups, with healthy diets associated with reduced risk, and unhealthy diets associated with increased risk for depression… However, this is the first randomised controlled trial to directly test whether improving diet quality can actually treat clinical depression.”

In the study, adults with major depressive disorder were split into groups and either assigned social support, or support from a clinical dietitian who prescribed food intakes reflective of the Mediterranean Diet; lots of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, fish, lean red meats, olive oil and nuts. These treatments extended over a 3 month period before reevaluations took place.

The results of the study, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, showed that participants in the dietary intervention group had a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms over the three-month period, compared to those in the social support group.

At the end of the trial, a third of those in the dietary support group met criteria for remission of major depression, compared to 8 percent of those in the social support group.

“These results were not explained by changes in physical activity or body weight, but were closely related to the extent of dietary change,” Professor Jacka said.

“Those who adhered more closely to the dietary program experienced the greatest benefit to their depression symptoms.”

The study suggests the new possibility of adding clinical dieticians to mental health care teams and making dietitian support available to those experiencing depression.

“It also supports the previous extensive research from human population studies and animal research suggesting that diet is a key determinant of mental and brain health,” Professor Jacka said.

Once again we see the power of a whole foods diet, similar to those which our ancestors ate. The mediterranean diet seems to be a consistently excellent player when it comes to establishing great health and wellbeing. Taking into account bioindividuality and the state of one’s gut health, a whole foods diet can be a fantastic approach to restoring great emotional health. Of course, psychological interventions will also provide much benefit, when conducted responsibly.

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