Researchers have been relating a poor diet with poor mental health for long. The underpinnings of mental problems are usually complex and some scientists have suggested a diet to be as important to psychiatry as it is to endocrinology, gastroenterology, and cardiology.
But is this statement supported by evidence? The scientists of this current study set out to investigate.
The lead researcher along with his colleagues noted that poor diet can affect the mental health negatively. However, this does not necessarily mean that improving the diet of a person can ease these mental problems.
To find a better answer to whether a good diet can improve mood disorders, the scientists investigated the data of about 46000 people. The findings of this study are present in a journal named Psychosomatic Medicine.
The Importance of High-fiber Food Items
The researchers went through all the information available at different electronic databases. They searched for different randomized control trials testing the effects of dietary interventions ion anxiety and depression.
The research was then narrowed down to 16 trials with information from 45,826 people.
The analysis of this study revealed that every type of dietary intervention significantly improved the symptoms of depression but did not show any improvements in case of anxiety.
Some of the dietary interventions that eased the depressive symptoms included fat-reducing diets, weight-loss diets, and nutrient-rich diets. These results were extremely promising as they denied the need for any specialized or highly-specific diets for an average individual.
Instead, the current study showed how making basic changes to the diet can be extremely beneficial for mental health.
In particular, consuming meals with high amounts of vegetables and fibers while cutting back on fast foods and sugars seems to be the best way to avoid their negative psychological effects.
A Healthy Diet as a Viable Treatment
The authors of this study have not only established the importance of a healthy diet but have also laid emphasis on the significance of exercise. Combining the dietary interventions with exercise was found to improve the depressive symptoms in the people immensely.
Taken together, the results from this study throws light on the significance of a healthy diet. Together with regular exercise, it has been granted as a viable treatment to cure mood disorder in people.
Interestingly, the study also found that dietary intervention seemed to affect women more than men. This particularly intrigued the researchers because it was an entirely new result with no mechanism to back it up.
The researchers have said that they are yet to understand why some of the dietary interventions seemed to have more benefits in women as compared to men. This clearly indicates that more work is required in this discovery and the relevant field.
In addition to this, the scientists also mentioned how they need to establish how the benefits of a healthy diet are associated with improvements in physical health.
This may be because of a reduction in inflammation, fatigue, or obesity, all of which are associated with diet and can directly affect the mental health.