Can Healthy Eating Help in Depression Treatment?
This is exactly what was found by Australian researchers when investigating whether improvements in the diet of people diagnosed with moderate to severe depression would result in improvements in the treatment of the disease.
Subjects were studied for a period of 12 weeks. To be admitted to the study, the person should be diagnosed with depression (according to DSM IV) and have their food classified as "poor" according to the Dietary Screening Tool - this means that they eat low amounts fiber, lean meat, fruits and vegetables, and a high intake of sweets, processed meats and snack foods.
During the 12 weeks, participants received nutritional counseling and support, including motivational intervention, goal setting and mindful eating by a qualified nutritionist.
After the period analyzed and the adoption of recommended nutritional measures - especially with an increase in the consumption of whole grains, fruits, dairy products, legumes, olive oil and fish - the group showed a significant improvement in the anxiety and depression subscale of the Anxiety Scale And Hospital Depression (HADS) and Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Scale (MADRS).
Furthermore, the study suggests that in addition to benefits related to nutritional intervention, behavioral changes in activity may also have had a therapeutic benefit to participants.
With these findings, it is suggested that psychiatrists should also consider the benefits of a nutritionist-oriented, healthy diet to support the treatment of depression.
To learn more about Nutrition Recommendations in Depression Prevention, I suggest you read the article written by Opie, R. S. and colleagues that has, in short, the following guidelines developed by nutrition and psychiatry experts for this purpose:
Substitute food from item 4 for healthy sources, such as item 2;
Limit the intake of processed and ultraprocessed foods, fast-foods and sweets;
Include a high consumption of foods rich in omega-3 (present in fish, among other sources);
Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds;
Follow "traditional" food standards, such as the Mediterranean Diet, Norwegian or Japanese Diet.
BAILEY, R. L et al. Dietary screening tool identifies nutritional risk in older adults. American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, [s.l.], v. 90, n. 1, p.177-183, 20 maio 2009. American Society for Nutrition. http://dx.doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2008.27268.
JACKA, Felice N. et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine, [s.l.], v. 15, n. 1, p.1-13, 30 jan. 2017. Springer Nature. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y.
OPIE, R.S. et al. Dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression. Nutritional Neuroscience, Australia, v. 0, n. 0, p.1-11, mar. 2015.