A recent study carried out by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has revealed a simple thing such as eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains may be a way to combat depression.
The research followed approximately 1,000 people with an average age of 81 for over six years monitoring their diet together with their mood.
At the end of the study the results found that the people who avoided red meat, saturated fats and sugar but ate a diet high in healthy vegetables, fruit and whole grains, were 11 per cent less likely to suffer with depression.
“Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke,” said study author Dr Laurel Cherian, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression.”
The amount of people suffering with depression is staggering; one in five of people in Britain alone and the NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That accumulates to approximately 6.9 percent of the population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It is a leading cause of disability and prescriptions for antidepressants are at an all time high. The most recent data from NHS Digital shows the health service issues around 64 million prescriptions each year at a cost of £9.2 billion. As recently as a decade ago this was actually less than half of what is being prescribed today.
During the study the participants were closely monitored for symptoms of depression such as being bothered by normal day to day occurrences and having a feeling of hopelessness about the future.
They were also asked to complete questionnaires detailing the types of food they ate and how often they ate each food group. Marrying the two results together revealed that the participants who ate a higher percentage of low-fat foods, less sugar and red meat, a high percentage of fruit, vegetables were less likely to develop depression than the participants who did the opposite i.e. high in fat, red meat and sugar.
“Future studies are now needed to confirm these results and to determine the best nutritional components of their diet to prevent depression later in life and to best help people keep their brains healthy,” added Dr Cherian.
The research was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.