The Mediterranean diet is a nutrition that is composed of eating vegetables, using olive oil, and consuming just the right amount of protein your body needs. It is very popular for the array of benefits it brings to our physical health, such as: preventing heart disease, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, and protecting your body against type 2 diabetes.
Surprisingly, the popular healthy diet has been discovered of having a great potential in helping people fight against mental health issues such as depression!
It might sound unbelievable or ridiculous but the researchers at the Deakin University have found a diet that can help people suffering from severe depression.
According to the new study, they gave dozens of patients who have major depressive disorders on a Mediterranean diet. The study led by Professor Jacka was published in the international and prestigious journal of BMC Medicine.
For 12 weeks straight, all of the patients participating in the study ate food rich in whole grains, legumes, fresh fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and nuts! During these 12 week,s one-third of the total participants noted a significant improvement in their mood and symptoms.
“We already know that diet has a very potent impact on the biological aspects of our body that affect depression risks,” Professor Felice Jacka, director of Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre, explained.
“The immune system, brain plasticity, and gut microbiota seem to be central not just to our physical health, but also our mental health.
The study led by Professor Jacka involved two groups of participants. The first 31 participants were put on the healthy Mediterranean diet and reduced their intake of sweets, refined cereals, fried food, and food with preservatives. For the second group, 25 participants did not have any changes to their diet and received the social support they need.
Surprising, only 8% out of the 25 participants who received social support showed improvement in their symptoms of depression. While a third of the participants belonging in the first group noted of the big improvement in their mood.
Sarah Keeble, one of the participants of the study who was put in Mediterranean diet even described her experience as ‘life changing!’
“I felt clearer in my mind. I felt balanced. I felt happier. I actually had a lot more energy. I felt I could really kick this in the butt,” Sarah said, recounting the positive changes in her mood brought by the Mediterranean diet. “It’s not going to cure depression, but you can certainly handle it very well.”
In fact, Sarah was so amazed and impressed by the result of the study that she decided to continue observing the Mediterranean diet even after the study is completed.
“I got so motivated because I felt so much better, better than I had in so long,” it the wonderful effect of eating a Mediterranean diet to her mental health condition that she was inspired to pursue a career in health science. “I’d like to help people in this situation where they think there’s no hope.” Sarah added, happy and satisfied of the nutritious diet.
The result of the study sure is promising and holds a lot of potential in helping people combat depression. However, Professor Jacka REMINDS people who the Mediterranean diet is NOT a replacement for personal therapy and conventional treatment of depression.
Still, Professor Jacka is hoping that dietitian could help people beat the vicious mental health disorder, hence she’s encouraging dietitians to support them. “It’s not a stretch to consider that people coming to a doctor with depression might have a referral to a clinical dietician,” Professor Jacka said, expressing her hope.
Professor Jacka is also hoping that people will be encouraged to follow a nutritious diet because of their physical and mental health and not simply for losing excess weight.
“Weight loss is not a factor in this particular case, but we hope we’ll help to change the public’s ideas of why it’s important to eat well – both from a prevention and a treatment point of view.”
If you’re thinking of enjoying the physical and mental health benefits a Mediterranean diet brings, start replacing butter and margarines with oil instead.
Try to incorporate more fish in your diet as well which is rich in protein and omega 3, instead of bingeing on chicken meat. Satisfy your hunger with fruits and vegetables and snack on nuts instead of red meats and junk food!
Whether you are after its physical or mental health benefits, you’ve got nothing to lose in eating a Mediterranean diet. Also, think about the fun and excitement it could bring in the kitchen as you earn, explore, and try-out new recipes!
Even Dr. Oz think’s it’s the healthiest diet of them all:
[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.]