A new trial conducted by researchers at Macquarie University found a strong association between poor diet and depression. To conduct this trial, researchers split participants into two groups: one group ate a Mediterranean-style diet while the other control group continued to eat their usual diet.
They found that in the group that had changed their diet to eat healthier, depression levels decreased from moderate to non-depressed. The other group remained in the moderately depressed severity range.
“Highly processed foods increase inflammation,” researcher Heather Francis, a lecturer in clinical neuropsychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, told NPR via email. What’s more, “if we don’t consume enough nutrient-dense foods, then this can lead to insufficiencies in nutrients, which also increases inflammation,” she said.
The “healthy group” ate around six more servings of fruits and vegetables than the control group. They were also told to increase their intake of whole grains and healthy proteins and avoid processed foods.
NPR noted that this trial was not a stand alone. In 2017, one study found a link between eating a diet full of refined grains, red meat, and high-fat dairy products and depression.
Although there may be other factors affecting this data, such as the fact that there is no way to “blind” the participants (hence there’s the potential for placebo), this trial could be the first step to lower levels of depression. What this trial truly highlights is how much of one’s life can be affected by the food choices they make.
Read more on this study here.
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