Using Diet to Beat the Blues

November 23rd, 2012
While there are many treatment options for those suffering from anxiety and depression, a current clinical study is exploring the link between these illnesses and diet. While previous studies have sho wn the benefits of particular nutrients, it's believed to be the first study of its kind in the world. Past research has indicated that nutritional factors can lead to symptoms of depression, however this study will look at how adopting a Mediterranean diet can alleviate existing symptoms. 200 participants from Melbourne and Geelong will take part in the study, which is being conducted by Deakin University, St Vincent's Hospital and Barwon Health.

Depression is a debilitating condition, and while many people are successfully treated, current methods are not suitable for everyone. It's hoped that the findings of this study could represent alternative options for such people, or be used in combination with current treatment methods for an improved result.

Many people are aware of the links between diet and a physical disease, but few are aware of the relationship between diet and mental illness. While it is not a highly researched area, there are several key studies which have linked particular nutrients to decreased symptoms and occurrences of depression.

This new study promises to bring this terrain into much better light. While the results will not be available for some time, previous studies have given some indications as to essential nutrients which can help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

The Mediterranean diet, which is made up of lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables and legumes, is rich in many of these nutrients.

B vitamins are considered to be linked with depression. Those with low levels of folate can also be less responsive to treatment with anti-depressant drugs, and also show a higher incidence of depression. Deficiency in vitamins B3 and B6 have also been linked to higher incidences of depression. Leafy greens, legumes, seeds, eggs and lean protein are excellent sources of vitamins B3, B6 and folate.

Fish is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are another nutrient linked with reducing depression. Several trials have shown that when given a daily Omega-3 supplement, sufferers of depression reported a decrease in symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in fish, eggs, as well as some oils. Marine sources of Omega-3 are said to have the greatest health benefits.

These same foods could also be linked with increased levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is key to maintaining mood levels. An increase of Tryptopahn, the amino acid required for serotonin to be produced, has been linked with decreased depressive symptoms. Tryptophan is found in meat, beans, legumes and eggs.

Eating a healthy balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is an excellent way to ensure you stay in good health.

It's important to note that before you make any changes to your diet, you should seek out the advice of your doctor or medical professional.