By Sarah Gibbons
It’s not just the sun, sand and sea of the Med that does your wellbeing wonders, but it’s the food too, new research suggests.
A healthy, plant-based diet of fruit, veg, fish, nuts, grains and olive oil appeared to have benefits in terms of mood, a study has found.
The findings, published in Molecular Psychiatry, come from a review of 41 studies published within the last eight years.
The research found that people who adhered to a diet rich in these anti-inflammatory food types were found to be 33% less likely to develop depression in the following eight to 12 years than those who didn’t follow a diet similar to this.
Lead author of the research, Dr Camille Lassale, said: ‘There is compelling evidence to show that there is a relationship between the quality of your diet and your mental health.
‘This relationship goes beyond the effect of diet on your body size or other aspects of health that can in turn affect your mood.
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‘We aggregated results from a large number of studies and there is a clear pattern that following a healthier, plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help in the prevention of depression.
‘A pro-inflammatory diet can induce systemic inflammation, and this can directly increase the risk for depression.
‘There is also emerging evidence that shows that the relationship between the gut and brain plays a key role in mental health and that this axis is modulated by gastrointestinal bacteria, which can be modified by our diet,’ she said.
Co-author Tasnime Akbaraly said the results meant ‘there are now strong arguments’ for this diet to be considered as part of the treatment of mental health.
However, Prof Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, recommended ‘a heavy dose of caution’ (via the BBC).
‘Whilst eating healthier is good for many reasons, we need more evidence before we can say plant-rich diets can improve mental health,’ he said.
If you are suffering with mental health issues, contact your GP.