Understanding the link between diet and depression
- Diets high in polyphenols have been shown to be highly effective at protecting against depression
- New research is investigating the diets and nutritional education of young men who are suffering with depression
It is often said that what you eat affects your mood, but how true is this?
A recent study reviewed the link between diet and depression, focusing particularly on the impact of the Mediterranean diet.
Previous research has suggested that the Mediterranean diet is highly effective at protecting against depression due to its elevated polyphenols content. Polyphenols are natural compounds found in a wide variety of plant foods and have high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
PhD student Jessica Bayes from the University of Technology Sydney conducted a systematic review of the studies into polyphenols and found that, of the 37 studies, 29 demonstrated a statistically significant effect of polyphenols for depression.
Her review found an association between polyphenol consumption and depression risk, as well as evidence suggesting polyphenols can effectively alleviate active depressive symptoms.
However, she also discovered significant gaps regarding the role of polyphenols for depressive symptoms in both young adults and men.
Jessica argues that this gap is significant, as gender specific research on dietary patterns consistently demonstrate differences in the food choices and behaviours of men and women. Studies reveal that men generally eat fewer fruits and vegetables and other high-fibre foods, and consume more high sugar drinks and alcohol than women.
Based on these findings, Jessica is now working on a second research project. She will use online surveys to investigate the diets and nutritional education of young men with depression.
This investigation will ultimately support her final project, which will see participants randomly assigned to either the Mediterranean diet group or the control group, which will also consist of social support. The main outcome measure will be changes to a depression rating scale.
Jessica’s research seeks to understand the attitudes, perceived benefits and challenges of continuing to follow a Mediterranean diet by young men with depression – and will hopefully shine further light on the topic: how does food affect our mood?