– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Eating healthy, nutrient-rich food can reduce the symptoms of depression, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Manchester analysed data from 46,000 people who took part in trials looking into how dieting affects mood and found that those who cut out fast food and moved towards healthier eating habits boosted their mental wellbeing.
They found that all types of weight-loss, or nutrient-improving diets have similar benefits for those experiencing depression or low mood – meaning that there’s no need to fret about adopting stringent diet plans, just look to eat less fat and sugar and more fruit and veg.
“Just making simple changes is equally beneficial for mental health,” Dr. Joseph Firth, an Honorary Research fellow at The University of Manchester who co-authored the study, said. “In particular, eating more nutrient-dense meals which are high in fibre and vegetables, while cutting back on fast-foods and refined sugars appears to be sufficient for avoiding the potentially negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food’ diet.”
The new study, which is published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, assessed existing data from clinical trials of diets for mental health conditions and found that overhauling a bad diet can reduce symptoms associated with depression, even in those without a diagnosed disorder.
His co-author, Dr. Brendon Stubbs of the National Institute for Health Research Maudsley and King’s College London, added: “Our data add to the growing evidence to support lifestyle interventions as an important approach to tackle low mood and depression.”
He continued by saying that a new healthy diet was even more effective when people also adopted a new exercise regime.
Their research also found that improvements in diet had a greater effect in alleviating depressive symptoms in women, although more evidence is needed to explain why this appears to be the case.
Dr. Firth now wants to investigate how diet could affect those with clinical depression, as the studies he and his team assessed mainly included those suffering from depressive symptoms but without an official diagnosis.