Mediterranean diet reduces risk of depression
Adopting a Mediterranean diet, long believed to protect individuals against heart disease and cancer, can also ward off depression, a new study finds.
‘We know how important the Mediterranean diet is in reducing cardiovascular risk factors and the same inflammatory proteins are also raised in patients with depression,’ said the lead researcher, Almudena Sanchez-Villegas.
According to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, those following a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains and fish but low in red meat, are 30 percent less likely to become depressed.
The mechanisms through which a better adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern helps prevent the occurrence of depression are not well known.
High content of olive oil in such diet, however, is believed to enhance the amount of serotonin, the main brain transmitter, targeted by the majority of anti-depression drugs, lowering the risk of the condition.
The elements of the diet, moreover, improve blood vessel function, fight inflammation, and repair oxygen-related cell damage -- all of which can help lower the risk of developing depression.
The study showed that among its studied subjects, male, ex-smokers, married and older individuals were more vulnerable to strongly following a Mediterranean diet. These individuals were, hence, reported to be more physically active and having a higher total energy intake.
Scientists concluded that the overall dietary pattern has a strong influence on an individual's risk of developing depression.
They are optimistic that their findings would, in the long run, reduce the heavy burden depression has imposed on the society.
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