2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
A diet low in saturated fat, fast carbohydrates and refined sugar can help reduce symptoms of depression, according to an article published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. An international team of scientists conducted a meta-analysis of 16 studies on the effects of nutrition on the mental state of people (most of them healthy), and found that eating healthy foods can reduce symptoms of depression, especially among women.
A balanced diet is a guarantee of not only physical health, but also general well-being of life, including mental health, and from a very early age: a year ago, scientists, for example, found out that the relationship between nutrition and self-esteem of children is two-way. Unhealthy eating habits can also lead to overeating or malnutrition, resulting in eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, which are often accompanied by binge eating.
In the new work, scientists led by Joseph Firth of Western Sydney University decided to test how nutrition affects the onset of symptoms of depression and anxiety disorder, both in a mentally healthy population and in patients with mental disorders. To do this, they conducted a meta-analysis of medical studies on nutrition: in total, scientists selected 16 works, in which a total of 45,826 people were participants.
The selected papers described the results of randomized controlled trials of the effects of dietary intake on the health of participants. The diets chosen by the authors in the works were different, but in general they were united by a reduction in calorie intake due to the complete or partial elimination of food rich in saturated fat, "fast" carbohydrates and refined sugar.
The researchers found that in addition to weight loss and improved physical well-being, active groups of participants in validated studies reported significant (p = 0.002) reductions in depression symptoms, with no significant effect on dietary anxiety (p = 0.18). In addition, the effect increased if the diet was combined with physical activity, and the relationship between nutrition and mental state was higher in women: scientists explain the latter by a possible difference in metabolic rate and attitudes towards diets and healthy eating, however, this dependence needs to be verified in further research.
It should be clarified that 15 out of 16 works that scientists chose for their meta-analysis were devoted to the study of a healthy population: among 45,826 participants in the studies reviewed, only 67 people were diagnosed with clinical depression. However, reducing depressive symptoms, even in a healthy population, can be a good way to prevent further development of the mental disorder. Given that some of the studies included in the analysis focused on the effects of diet on the health of diabetics, this is important because the risk of depression and other mental disorders increases with chronic illness.
As for the elderly, who have a higher risk of mental disorders, they are advised to diet for hypertensive patients for prevention: last year, scientists found that the consumption of fatty meat, in particular, increases the risk of developing depression.