Diet and depression – what’s the connection?
Can eating a balanced, healthy diet help improve depression? Studies have shown some correlation between a diet rich in fish and lower rates of mental illness… but as the axiom goes, correlation does not equal causation. However, a new small randomized controlled trial showed that a healthy diet did significantly improve mood symptoms. The NNT was only 4!
Patients in the intervention group received nutrition counseling and motivational interviewing to help with adherence to a healthy, balanced diet. They were also encouraged to set goals and practice mindfulness while eating. The recommended diet included:
- 5-8 servings of whole grains per day
- 6 vegetables per day
- 3 fruit servings per day
- 3-4 legumes per week
- 2-3 low fat, unsweetened dairy
- up to 6 eggs per week
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil per day
And reduction of:
- refined cereals
- fried food
- processed meats
- sugary drinks
It is important to keep in mind that all patients in the study continued to receive regular care with therapy and/or medication. But it appears that a balanced diet — rich in vegetables and healthy fats and proteins, with less processed food and sugar — was of substantial benefit as an additional intervention.
Here’s a link to the article: SMILES Trial