The results were remarkable for several reasons. The diet benefited mental health even though the participants did not lose any weight. People also saved money by eating more nutritious foods, which shows that eating healthy can be economical. Prior to the study, participants spent an average of $ 138 per week on groceries. Those who switched to healthy eating cut their food bills to $ 112 per week.
The recommended foods were relatively cheap and available in most grocery stores. These included canned beans and lentils, canned salmon, tuna and sardines, and frozen and conventional products, said Felice Jacka, the study's lead author.
"Mental health is complex," said Dr. Jacka, Director of the Food & Mood Center at Deakin University in Australia and President of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. “Eating a salad won't cure depression. But a lot can be done to lift your spirits and improve your sanity, and it can be as simple as increasing your intake of plants and healthy foods. "
A number of randomized trials have reported similar results. In a study of 150 adults with depression published last year, the researchers found that people who followed a fish oil-fortified Mediterranean diet for three months had greater reductions in symptoms of depression, stress and depression after three months compared to a control group Had anxiety.
However, not every study has produced positive results. For example, a large, year-long study published in JAMA in 2019 found that a Mediterranean diet reduced anxiety, but didn't prevent depression in a group of high-risk people. Taking supplements such as vitamin D, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids had no effects on depression or anxiety.
Most mental health professionals have not followed dietary recommendations, partly because experts say more research is needed before they can prescribe a particular mental health diet. However, public health experts in countries around the world have begun encouraging people to adopt behaviors such as exercise, sound sleep, a heart-healthy diet, and avoiding smoking that can reduce inflammation and have benefits for the brain. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists issued guidelines for clinical practice urging doctors to consider diet, exercise, and smoking before starting any medication or psychotherapy.
Individual clinicians also include nutrition in their work with patients. Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor at Columbia University College for Physicians and Surgeons in New York, begins his sessions with new patients by taking their psychiatric history and then examining their diet. He asks what they eat, learns about their favorite foods, and finds out if foods that he thinks are important for the intestinal-brain connection are missing in their diet, such as plants, seafood, and fermented foods.