Eating healthy improves mental health and reduces depression

Eating healthy improves mental health and reduces depression

The benefit of a healthy diet for weight loss is obvious but it also impacts mental health. Eating healthy can also reduce symptoms of depression and other related disorders. Adding fruits, vegetables and fish are particularly helpful in this regard.

But do you know that it only takes three weeks to change your dietary intake? Or in other words, only in three weeks diet can reduce the symptoms of depression. The new study from Australia finds young adults with depression to feel better after 21 days when on a healthy diet.

Click here to read the complete research findings. 

How a little change in diet can bring big changes?

The healthy diet includes more fresh fruit, green vegetables, fish and lean meats.

The main researcher of this study is Heather Francis. Her colleagues from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia studied 76 students between ages 17-35. All of them were on an unhealthy, poor diet and were exhibiting symptoms of depression.

There were two groups of students, one group was consuming the same food as they were eating before. The second group was following a healthy diet in the form of a hamper of healthy foods and AU$60 (approx. £33) for healthy groceries.

As it was a small study, the researchers were able to assess each participant individually for depression, anxiety, and related problems. The pre and post-experiment assessment were rated for their performance in multiple learning and reasoning tasks.

After three weeks, the group, which was on healthy, diet showed significant improvement in mood and depression symptoms. Their scores were better than the other group following an unhealthy diet.

How does depression affect your performance?

Depression is a medical condition that affects your mental health. People experiencing this condition often feel sadness, dismay, hopelessness, anxiety, and negativity for long periods. Some times this depression is seasonal and other times it is a persistent depressive disorder.

Common symptoms of depression are unhappiness, sleeping problems, concentration issues, fatigue, appetite change, and suicidal thoughts. The treatment for clinical depression contains antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Sometimes doctors also recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in severe cases.

The reason why a healthy diet group had significantly lower anxiety scored better than the unhealthy diet group is linked with diet. Although there were no different secondary measures and it was a small size experiment, still it explains a lot.

Also read- US School allows students to take mental health excused leaves

After three months of the test, a recheck on 33 students showed that only 21% of them are following a healthy diet. The same 21% were having the same beneficial effects on mood disorders. The rest were not following a healthy diet at all.

This experiment suggests that modifying the routine diet by increasing the consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil can reduce depression in individuals. Even a little change in diet counts but one has to follow it for at least three weeks to expect results.


Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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