Study: Healthier Diet = Happier Mood

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Sydney, Australia—Following a healthier diet rich in produce, fish, nuts and spices for just three weeks was shown to significantly decrease symptoms of depression, researchers from Macquarie University, Australia, report in PLOS ONEAccording to an overview of the research on ScienceDaily, the randomized controlled trial included 76 university students, ages 17 to 35. At the start of the study, subjects had moderate-to-high depression symptoms and followed “poor” diets (high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats).

One group of participants was instructed to follow a healthier diet for three weeks. They were advised to increase intake of vegetables (5 servings per day), fruits (2–3 per day), wholegrain cereals (3 per day), protein (lean meat, poultry, eggs, tofu, legumes; 3 per day), unsweetened dairy (3 per day), fish (3 per week), nuts and seeds (3 tablespoons per day), olive oil (2 tablespoons per day), spices (turmeric and cinnamon; 1 teaspoon most days). They also were instructed to decrease refined carbs, sugar, fatty or processed meats and soft-drinks. The second group was given no diet instruction.

The result: After three weeks, the group that switched to a healthier diet experienced significant improvement in mood, with depression scores shifting to the normal range. They also had significantly lower anxiety scores compared to subjects who had not been instructed to change their diets.

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“Modifying diet to reduce processed food intake and increase consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil improved depression symptoms in young adults,” the authors said, according to ScienceDaily. “These findings add to a growing literature showing a modest change to diet is a useful adjunct therapy to reduce symptoms of depression.”

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