Dealing with depression can be difficult. The disease can affect people from all walks of life in silent and insidious ways. Fortunately, awareness about the important yet sensitive topic is becoming more and more popular around the world. While therapy and medication are common ways to treat the mental illness, researchers from Australia have found another way to deal with the symptoms of depression.
After analyzing the results of a trial wherein individuals aged 17-35 years old were asked to eat a healthier diet, they found that these same people exhibited fewer symptoms three weeks since the change.
What more, participants who continued on their healthier habits for months still reported they felt better compared to when the experiment started.
Talking about the team’s findings, lead author Heather Francis emphasizes how this potential solution has ‘100% reach’ because all people eat and that it can be more cost-effective than medications, too.
There’s also the fact that eating is an aspect of treatment that patients have control over of. She also said that diet changes can act in a similar way to therapy when it comes to improving depression symptoms.
Recommended Meal Plan
Divided into two groups, the habitual-diet group or the diet-change group, the participants in the latter were assigned a new diet that’s based on the 2003 Australian Guide to Healthy Eating as well as the Mediterranean diet.
The group was shown an instructional video for guidance. They were specifically instructed on how much of certain foods they’re supposed to eat in a day.
This involved upping their daily vegetable consumption to five servings per day while also eating three servings of whole grains and up to three servings of fruits. Added to these are the three servings of unsweetened dairy and lean protein.
Meanwhile, the participants were also recommended to eat three servings of fish per week. Additionally, they are also instructed to lessen their consumption of unhealthy foods like refined carbohydrates, fatty meats, and sugar.
However, it’s still important to note that these positive results have some caveats. Dr. Marc Molendijk, a professor and a member of the editorial board of PLoS ONE where the study was published, warns that giving too much weight to the results can send a bad message to people with depression.
According to Molendijk, they may end up feeling like it’s their fault that they’re depressed.
Dr. Joseph Firth has a more positive take on the subject though. The University of Manchester research fellow said that there is truth in the saying ‘healthy body, healthy mind’.