You’ve probably heard of the connections between diet and heart health or diet and weight loss. But have you heard of the diet and mental health connection? That’s right, there is more and more evidence that good food = good mood.
The Registered Dietitians at Harmons base nutrition advice on scientific research. Generally, when a research study includes a large group of people (say several thousand) versus a smaller group (such as thirty), the findings are much more convincing. Just this last month, research on 45,826 people showed nutrition improvements significantly decreased symptoms of depression.
These findings are extremely hopeful because there are few negative side effects of making diet changes. In addition, 22.5% of adults in Utah experienced symptoms of depression in 2017. The potential benefit of helping so many people with few side effects is tremendous!
So…what is it? What is the magic anti-depressant diet?
Each of the 16 studies used different diets. Many of them led to fewer symptoms of depression. Although diets varied, there were some commonalities:
10 of the 16 studies focused on increasing fruits and vegetable intake
9 of the 16 studies focused on decreasing saturated fat intake
These two simple items are very broad, which is great news! Rather than needing to follow a specific diet, this study shows that making any effort, in general, can have important effects.
Many of the people studied did not have an official diagnosis of depression. So even if a doctor hasn’t told you that you are depressed, a small shift to more veggies and fewer added sugars over time could help when you’re feeling down or like you’re in a funk.
It’s important to note that nutrition isn’t a cure-all, but it can be part of treatment for mental health issues along with other suggestions your medical professionals may have.
Here’s to having a skip in our step, veggies in our grocery cart, and a smile on our face because good food really can mean good mood!