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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More research concludes that a healthy diet can help fight depression.
This follows news about a growing number of people, especially younger people, are suffering with depression.
Many doctors say while food shouldn’t replace medications, it can be just as important.
Oatmeal for breakfast is part of a diet that’s helping to treat William Jiang’s depression.
“It’s changed my life dramatically,” Jiang said.
Researchers in Australia looked at whether food could improve mood.
The study involved 67 people with moderate to severe depression. They were on antidepressants and in psychotherapy.
Half got the Mediterranean diet rich in plant-based foods and healthy fats, along with help from a dietitian.
Half continued their unhealthy diets and went to social support sessions.
After 12 weeks, the Mediterranean diet group had improvement in their depression scores. Some had so much improvement, they no longer met criteria for depression.
“A healthy mind, a healthy body, it’s ancient wisdom but it holds true today,” Jiang said.
Researchers say it’s possible anti-inflammatory properties of the foods helped, or the food improved the relationship between gut microbes and brain health.
Some mood boosting foods includes, fresh fruits and vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds.
“I would think of diet as maybe an adjunct, to a more proven, robust primary treatment,” said Dr. Van Nickell, a psychiatrist. “If you’re switching from your normal American diet, there will be more obstacles to maintaining it. People who are depressed are going to have a hard time doing that.”
For Jiang, by cutting out fast food and eating a Mediterranean diet, he says he no longer needs to take anti-depressants.
It’s important to never change or stop medication without talking to your doctor.
It is estimated that around 16 million Americans have at least one significant depressive episode a year, making it one of the most common mental health conditions.