Link between depression and your diet

Local News

Dr. Colleen Fogarty, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine, discussed a new study examining the link between depression and your diet Thursday on News 8 at Sunrise.

“It’s a very interesting study out of Australia,” said Dr. Fogarty. “It was a randomized control trial, a comparison group of a diet counseling intervention and usual care found that folks who upgraded their diet from a diet that was high in sugary foods and processed foods, and changed that to more of whole foods diet actually had better scores on their depression outcomes after twelve weeks.”

Certain foods were emphasized for improving the symptoms of depression.  “They used a modified Mediterranean diet, and that’s a diet that’s rich in plants foods, including fruits and vegetables — five to six a day — whole grains, including oatmeal and whole wheat,” noted Dr. Fogarty. “It was lower in meats, particularly lean meats like chicken and fish, with about one to two servings a day for those foods. It also includes nuts, olive oil, and is very low in sugars and processed foods.”

Here’s a list of food recommendations:

whole grains (5-8 servings per day)

vegetables (6 per day)

fruit (3 per day)

legumes (3-4 per week)

low fat and unsweetened dairy foods (2-3 per day)

raw and unsalted nuts (1 per day)

fish (at least 2 per week)

lean red meats (3-4 per week)

chicken (2-3 per week)

eggs (up to 6 per week)

olive oil (3 tablespoons per day)

Dr. Fogarty said the study’s conclusions recommend reducing “extras” foods like sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks.  Also, don’t drink alcohol more than two standard drinks per day, and less is better.  Red wine is favored, and recommended only with meals.

Diet, of course, is just one aspect of addressing depression.  “Medications as well as counseling are both very helpful for depression,” Dr. Fogarty said. “We should never underestimate the importance of exercise. Physical activity in of itself can help brighten the mood and have an impact on depression over time.”


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