Two recent studies, one in the UK and one in Finland, have compared eating habits, and both have discovered that diets that contain a lot of junk food like sugary drinks and processed meat products, can lead to elevated risks of depression, while diets of healthier foods, like vegetables and fruits, help to keep the blues away.
Depression is a disease that affects nearly one fifth of all British adults. The study in the UK involved over 2,000 men, while about the same number of middle-aged and older men were researched over a 13-year-period of time.
Depression hits 19 per cent of people in the UK. 21 per cent of women are affected by symptoms of depression, and 16 per cent of men, with people between the ages of 50-54 experiencing the highest rates.
According to the UK study, the risk of middle-aged and older males developing depression after changing their eating habits to eat healthier food were reduced. Dropping some extra weight and exercising more was also associated with lower levels of depression in this population group.
Also, according to University of Eastern Finland nutritionist Anu Ruusunen, the study supports “the hypothesis a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention.”
The men in the Finland study who consumed the greatest amounts in comparison of fish, poultry, vegetables, berries, fruits, low fat cheese and whole grains, experienced lower levels of depression and fewer related symptoms during the 13-year follow up period.
Also, the greater consumption of foods high in folate, like berries, whole grains, liver and other meat had a positive affect.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, moderate coffee intake was another factor that caused depression levels to become lower in the UK study, though total caffeine intake of tea and coffee in the study that took place in Finland appeared to have little to no link in the overall lowered levels of depression which resulted from the dietary change.
The Finnish study was based upon the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.
New approaches to both the treatment and prevention of depression are needed to see the levels drop, and lifestyle changes and eating healthier foods are one possible answer to experiencing a greater sense of well-being, happiness, and lowered levels of depression.
The UK study can be read in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, European Journal of Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition and Diabetic Medicine.
In Finland, a research study on the symptoms of depression and how a lifestyle intervention could lower them were published in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study.
This study was on 140 middle-age men and women. They were split up into two groups, one which would take part in the lifestyle intervention and the other to be a control group.
As with the other two studies, this one also suggested that a healthy diet of fruit, berries, vegetables, poultry, fish, whole-grains, and low-fat cheese is beneficial at lowering symptoms of depression.
You can read the study online here.
If you’d like to experience less depression in your life, perhaps a simple and effective method of chasing the blues away is only as far away as the fruit and vegetable aisle of your local supermarket.
Written by: Douglas Cobb