(Photo : Jerzy Górecki | Pixabay )

A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and limited amount of highly processed food products can help reduce symptoms of depression, findings of a new study revealed.

Effects Of Healthier Diet On Individuals With Depressive Symptoms

In a small study, researchers found that young adults who have poor diet and depression problems may be able to perk themselves up by adopting a healthier diet.

The researchers divided 76 individuals who scored high on two depression and anxiety scales into either one of two groups: the diet-change group and the habitual-diet group for three weeks.

Those in the diet-change group were instructed to increase their intake of vegetables to five servings per day, fruits to at least two servings per day, whole grains to three servings per day, unsweetened dairy to three servings per day, lean protein to three servings per day, and fish to three servings per week.

They were also urged daily consumption of three tablespoons of nuts and seeds, two tablespoons of olive oil, and one teaspoon each of turmeric and cinnamon and reduced intake of refined carbohydrates, sugars, fatty or processed meats and soft drinks.

After three weeks, the average depression scores of those in the diet-change group improved to normal range, while the score remained elevated or severe in those in the habitual diet group. .

They also felt better after three weeks of healthy eating than when they started.

Diet Intervention To Address Depression

Study researcher Heather Francis of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, said eating healthier is more cost effective compared with medications. This alternative treatment method also has 100 percent reach since everybody needs to eat.

"These results are the first to show that young adults with elevated depression symptoms can engage in and adhere to a diet intervention, and that this can reduce symptoms of depression," the researchers wrote.

"The findings provide justification for future research into the duration of these benefits, the impacts of varying diet composition, and their biological basis."

The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE on Oct. 9.

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