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:

  • sweets
  • refined cereals
  • fried food
  • fastfood
  • 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