There are more and more depressed people in the world. It is estimated that there are some 300 million, of which 40 million are European. In USA, the prevalence is approximately 6.7% among adults. Added to this factor is the fact that 2 out of 3 of those who suffer from depression never get over it so they live with chronic depression all their lives.
Chronic stress is one of the factors that induces depression and impairs intellectual activity in general. But in addition, the neuroscientific research carried out suggest adequate diet is a factor that can undoubtedly improve mood.
The key: eat a lot of fiber
It has long been known that the unhealthy diet is not only harmful to the heart and the gut but also can worsen the mental state in general. However, that does not mean that when the way of eating is improved, the symptoms of depression or anxiety will stop.
In a new study published recently the results were analyzed in 45,826 participants who followed varied diets consisting of slimming programs, low fat diets or other rich in other types of nutrients. The general conclusion reached is that eating more vegetables and foods with fiber (fruits, vegetables, legumes) is essential to improve the symptoms of depression. Interestingly, with these dietary guidelines anxiety was not improved. Another surprising aspect is that the effects on mood were greater in women than in men, although the reasons are still unknown.
The researchers also highlight the fact that the effect was even more beneficial when eating lots of fiber was combined with physical exercise, especially in the open air.
The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of depression
One of the diets studied that provides benefits against depression is the Mediterranean diet . Consists mainly in the consumption of a high variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains and seeds, olive oil, moderate consumption of fish, lean meat (especially poultry) and fermented milk (yogurt, cheese). The consumption of sugars, saturated fats and red meats is very low.
Watch out! Take olive oil and eat white bread and sweets is NOT to follow a Mediterranean diet.
This diet provides essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, microminerals and slow assimilation carbohydrates that promote optimal state of mind and mood.
In particular for the improvement of mood, several scientific examples corroborate its benefits. Here I expose some of them:
- A study carried out on 27 women following this diet for 10 days;
- A study conducted on 152 people for 3 months;
- A study conducted on 166 people for 12 weeks.
In all cases, an improvement in depression was observed, even when it was severe. In particular, emphasis was placed on legumes, vegetables and blue fish.
The state of the intestine also influences depression
The gut bacteria also have a lot to say in the mood. The intestine is occupied by billions of microorganisms of about 1,000 types that must keep a certain stable balance for the head to function well. When these microorganisms have altered levels increases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases .
Although there is still much to study, they are already beginning to identify some alterations of the bacteria of the intestine that would influence depression. One of the works that is giving a lot to talk about is the one recently published by researchers from Research Centers in Belgium, through a study in which 1,054 people participated. The researchers detected that at least 2 types of intestinal bacteria (Coprococcus and Dialister) were absent in people with depression but not in people who did not suffer from this disease.
In addition, the researchers analyzed the “dialogue” that the bacteria had with the brain and could influence their activity. To do this, they studied what types of bacteria produced neuroactive compounds that contribute to memory, soul and learning activity. For example, they showed that the production of substances by some types of bacteria improved mental quality.
Even with all this, depression is a combination of many different factors, both genetic and environmental and lifestyle that can not be included in the “same box” for all cases. Diet is one of the parameters to consider, but not the only one.