A diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, plant-based food and fish, typical of a traditional Mediterranean diet, could help lower the risk of depression, according to new research.
Researchers from the UK, Spain and Australia analysed data from 41 studies, and found a “clear pattern” that following a healthier, plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help in the prevention of depression.
On the flip side, a pro-inflammatory diet with high contents of saturated fat, sugar and processed food was associated with a higher risk of depression, they said.
“There is compelling evidence to show that there is a relationship between the quality of your diet and your mental health,” said lead author, Dr Camille Lassale from University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health. “This relationship goes beyond the effect of diet on your body size or other aspects of health that can in turn affect your mood.”
Of the 41 studies included, four specifically looked at the link between a traditional Mediterranean diet and depression over time in 36,556 adults. They found that participants from these longitudinal studies with greater adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet had a 33% lower risk of developing depression than people whose diet least resembled a Mediterranean diet.
However, not everyone was convinced by the findings, which were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow told the Guardian: “The current evidence is not sufficient to prove plant-rich diets can prevent depression as most of the evidence so far simply shows that those with poorer mental health eat worse. Also the link to inflammation as a plausible mechanism to explain a link between diet and mind health is highly tenuous.”