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Can a healthy diet influence onset of Depression?

Photo credit – Gloria Williams via Flickr

Here is a new one for you olive oil/Mediteranean Diet connoisseurs. It may or may not work. But it can’t hurt you.

In 41 recent medical studies adhering to a healthy diet, in particular a traditional Mediterranean diet, or avoiding a pro-inflammatory diet appear to offer some protection against depression . The reduction in the risk of depression was estimated at approx. 33% by following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fish and chicken, high in omega-3’s and healthy fats like olive oil but low in sugars and carbohydrates. Maybe.

Depression worldwide occurs in 7% of women and 4% of men. So finding some causal link to it or some way to mitigate it would be wonderful. Even when treated with drugs under a doctor’s supervision, there is a 50% relapse.  So this recent review of medical studies of dietary intake may be promising.  The theory is that neurological pathways potentially affecting depression risk can be modulated by nutritional intake are related to inflammation, oxidative stress, neuroplasticity, mitochondrial function, and the gut microbiome. Or in english — what you eat can affect the brain’s function perhaps by causing inflammation, oxidation or some other malfunction that affects the flow of electric current within the brain. So if that is true, then eating a good healthy diet like the Mediterranean Diet rich in fish, vegetables, olive oil etc. and low in cards and sugar, might possibly reduce a cause of depression.

The problem with these studies is  that they look at people after the fact. The people are already depressed, so the scientists then set about to statistically analyze some measurable factor like diet, do a regression analysis and see if it can be graphed against the incidence of depression and then draw a conclusion.  Ahhhh scientists working in their cubicles trying to produce publications for their resumes.

Perhaps feeling down, anxiety, or even depression leads one to want to indulge in some ice cream and skew the results of these desk jockeys? Either way, it is still not a bad idea to be eating more fish, omega-3s. fruits, vegetables and olive oil … and indulge a little with chocolate chocolate chip on those days when nothing else seems to make you feel good. It might sometimes work a better than the 50% failure rate of antidepressant drugs.

Or another approach might be to be among friends  … preferably underwater in the Caymans.  There have been few times that I have seen surface anxiety survive when you are with friends at 60 feet and visiting tropical fish.



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