Mediterranean diet helps beat depression in young men – Neuroscience News


Summary: Switching to a Mediterranean diet significantly improved symptoms of depression in young men, a new study reports.

Source: University of Sydney

According to a new study, young men with poor diets saw significant improvement in their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Depression is a common mental health problem that affects around 1 million Australians every year. It is an important risk factor for suicide, the leading cause of death in young adults.

The 12-week randomized controlled trial, conducted by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Lead researcher Jessica Bayes, a doctoral candidate in the UTS School of Health, said the study was the first randomized clinical trial to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on symptoms of depression in young people. men (aged 18 to 25).

“We were surprised at how willing the young men were to embrace a new diet,” Bayes said. “People assigned to the Mediterranean diet were able to significantly modify their original diet, under the guidance of a nutritionist, over a short period of time.”

“This suggests that physicians and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important part of treating clinical depression,” she said.

The diet used in the study was rich in colorful vegetables, legumes and whole grains, fatty fish, olive oil and raw unsalted nuts. Image is in public domain

The study contributes to the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry, which aims to explore the effect that specific nutrients, foods and diets can have on mental health. The diet used in the study was rich in colorful vegetables, legumes and whole grains, fatty fish, olive oil and raw unsalted nuts.

“The primary goal was to increase diet quality with fresh whole foods while reducing consumption of ‘fast’ foods, sugar and processed red meat,” Bayes said.

“There are many reasons why we scientifically believe that food affects mood. For example, around 90% of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel happy, is made in our gut by our gut microbes. There is new evidence that these microbes can communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve, in what is called the gut-brain axis.

“To get beneficial microbes, we need to feed them fiber, which is found in legumes, fruits, and vegetables,” she said.

About 30% of depressed patients do not respond adequately to standard treatments for major depressive disorder, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants.

“Nearly all of our participants remained with the program, and many were keen to continue the diet after the study was completed, showing how effective, tolerable, and helpful they found the intervention.”

About this diet and depression research news

Author: Leilah Schubert
Source: University of Sydney
Contact: Leilah Schubert – University of Sydney
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: Access closed.
“The Effect of a Mediterranean Diet on Depressive Symptoms in Young Men (The “AMMEND” Study): A Randomized Controlled Trial” by Jessica Bayes et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


Abstract

The effect of a Mediterranean diet on symptoms of depression in young men (the “AMMEND” study): a randomized controlled trial

Background

Depression is a common mental health problem that affects 1 in 8 men every year, especially young adults. Young adulthood provides an opportunity for early dietary interventions, with research suggesting that a Mediterranean (MD) diet may be beneficial in the treatment of depression.

Goal

This study aimed to find out if a doctor can improve depressive symptoms in young men with clinical depression.

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Methods

A 12-week open-label randomized controlled trial in parallel groups was conducted to assess the effect of a medical intervention in the treatment of moderate to severe depression in young men (18-25 years old). Friendship therapy was chosen for the control group. Assessments were taken at baseline, week 6, and week 12. Adherence to DM was measured with the Mediterranean Adherence Score (MEDAS). The primary endpoint was the Beck Depression Inventory Scale (BDI-II) and the secondary endpoint was quality of life (QoL).

Results

A total of 72 participants completed the study. After 12 weeks, MEDAS scores were significantly higher in the MD group compared to the befriending group (mean diff: 7.8, 95% CI: 7.23, 8.37, p<0.001). The mean change in BDI-II score was significantly higher in the MD group compared to the retention group at week 12 (mean difference: 14.4, 95% CI: 11.41, 17.39, p<0.001 ). The mean change in quality of life score was also significantly higher in the MD group compared to the friendship group at week 12 (mean difference: 12.7, 95% CI: 7.92, 17.48) , p<0.001).

Conclusion

Our results demonstrate that, compared to friendship, an MD intervention results in significant increases in MEDAS score, decreases in BDI-II score, and increases in quality of life scores. These results highlight the important role of nutrition in the treatment of depression and should inform the advice given by clinicians to this specific demographic.


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