It is pretty well known that the way we eat affects both our physical and mental health. While this seems simple, there are many claims to certain foods out there. Let’s break down some research studies that analyze this topic.
A diet that is balanced and rich in vegetables and nutrients are associated with wellbeing.
A UK study from February 2019 analyzed 40,000 individuals over the same amount of time and the research showed a positive association between the quantity of fruit and vegetables consumed and people's self-reported mental well-being. (link)
Individuals who follow the Mediterranean dietary pattern - rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish - appear less likely to develop depression.
In 2009, researchers studied 10,094 Spanish participants over a 6 year span. The results found that individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely had a greater than 30% reduction in the risk of depression than whose who had the lowest Mediterranean diet scores. (link)
Good nutritional intake at an early age is linked to healthier mental wellbeing.
A 2014 study found that a poor diet - high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods - were linked to poor mental health in children and adolescents. Researchers studied 12 children and adolescents and observed a consistent trend for the relationship between good-quality diet and better mental health. (link)
There is a clear relationship between obesity and depression.
A 2010 study looked at the links between obesity and depression. Researchers found that there is a reciprocal link between depression and obesity. Obesity was found to increase the risk of clinically diagnosed depression. In addition, depression was found to be predictive of developing obesity. (link)
So what does this mean?
Developing healthier eating habits, such as incorporating more protein, fruits, and vegetables, can have clear benefits on your mental wellbeing. Keep in mind, you should always consult with your doctor prior to altering your diet. While nutrition helps mental health, you also want to make sure you are working with a licensed professional who can help. Click here to work with a lifestyle therapist.