Healthy eating wards off depression
Eating healthy foods, especially those following the Mediterranean dietary pattern, or avoiding proinflammatory diet appears to exert a protective effect on the risk of depression, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Researchers searched multiple online databases for observational studies examining whether following a healthy dietary pattern was associated with depressive symptoms or clinical depression. The search yielded 214 full-text articles, but only 20 longitudinal and 21 cross-sectional studies were included in the meta-analysis.
The studies used the following dietary measures: different measures of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and Alternative HEI (AHEI), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and the Dietary Inflammatory Index. The majority of studies were on generally healthy participants, while two comprised populations at high risk of knee osteoarthritis, and one involved individuals with a history of myocardial infarction.
Pooled data revealed a significant association between Mediterranean diet and incident depression, with highest vs lowest adherence category conferring a 33-percent reduction in the risk of developing the condition (relative risk [RR], 0.67, 95 percent CI, 0.55–0.82).
Furthermore, a lower Dietary Inflammatory Index correlated with reduced depression incidence (RR, 0.76, 0.63–0.92). Studies using other adherence indices also showed an inverse association between healthy diet and depression (eg, HEI/AHEI: RR, 0.65, 0.50–0.84).
The researchers pointed out a clear need for more prospective studies and well-powered clinical trials to further explore the role of dietary patterns in the prevention of onset, severity and recurrence of depressive episodes.