Eating healthy might not only yield improvements in one's physical health, but also affect a person's risk of developing a serious mental health condition, a new study suggests.
Researchers observed and followed nearly 1,000 participants with an average age of 81 yearly for an average of six-and-a-half years. They monitored them for common symptoms of depression, such as being bothersome by certain things that typically don't affect them and feeling hopeless about their future.
They were also required to provide data on things like how often they ate certain types of food, and the researchers also observed how keenly strictly the participants stuck to a type of diet, such as DASH, Mediterranean, and traditional Western.
Who Were More Likely To Be Depressed?
The researchers divided participants into three groups based on how closely they adhered to their diets.
They found that the people who avoided eating red meat, saturated fats, sugar, and ate more healthy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains were 11 percent less likely to be suffering from depression by the time the study ended. Meanwhile, the group who followed the traditional Western diet — high in saturated fats and read meat, low in fruits and vegetables — were found to be more likely candidates of depression.
"Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke," said Laurel Cherian, the study's author. She specializes in neurology and vascular neurology at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Don't Get Excited Yet
Cherian said her team wanted to determine whether changing one's diet could be an effective method of reducing their risk for depression. While the results seem encouraging, Cherian says that the study doesn't prove outright that the DASH diet reduced depression; they merely found a link between the two.
More studies must be performed, she said, especially to pinpoint the components of the DASH diet in terms of nutrition and accurately conclude whether the diet is an efficient way of avoiding risks of depression later in life.
The results of the study will be presented at the 70th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Los Angeles, from April 21 to 27.
There you go, folks. One more reason to eat fruits and vegetables more frequently than common types of food found in a traditional Western diet. What do you think? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!