Can a Diet Change Help Depression?
By Randi Morse
Let's talk about depression. It often takes quite a while for someone who has depression to seek help. This may be because of the stigma our society has placed on any type of mental illness. People with depression symptoms often search for ways they can help alleviate their symptoms at home without medications. It turns out, changing your diet may be a fantastic way to help when you're feeling down and depressed.
One of the most popular diets for those who are seeking to alleviate the symptoms of depression is the Mediterranean diet. This diet is popular for a variety of reasons and is even something that is recommended to diabetics. With the Mediterranean diet, your main focus is on eating things like fatty fish instead of red meat, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and healthy fats like those you find in olive oil and raw nuts. With the Mediterranean diet, it is OK to have a bit of wine or a sweet treat now and again.
A study was done to see how effective the Mediterranean diet is at helping decrease the symptoms of depression. This study took 166 volunteers, all of whom were diagnosed as clinically depressed. The researchers discovered that after their volunteers had been eating a Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks, their symptoms were significantly better. Another study found that medical students who increased their omega-3 fatty acid intake were able to reduce their anxiety by about 20 percent.
While the Mediterranean diet is all about adding healthy foods into your eating habits, the DASH diet focuses more on taking away something, particularly sugar. In order to follow this diet, you should get all your protein from chicken, nuts, and fish. Any dairy that you have should be either low-fat or nonfat. There should be plenty of vegetables, fruit, and greens in your diet, and you should limit how much alcohol, sugary drinks, and saturated fats you consume. One study done in 2017 found that men who ate what many people would consider a moderate amount of sugar per day, just about two soda cans worth, were 23 percent more likely to develop depression symptoms within five years.
Can changing your diet truly help you to beat depression? Maybe not. But it can help to ease the symptoms and, in general, there's no harm in changing your diet to a healthy option, but it's always a good idea to consult your physician before you make any big lifestyle changes.
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