Change in diet may help with depression

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Dietary changes can make a real difference in depression.

Three separate recent articles have looked at what people eat and found that significant changes in diet can reduce symptoms of depression.

The first article was printed in the June 2010 issue of the Nutrition Journal, and reports a study done by the Department of Nutrition of Arizona State University. They looked at 143 Seventh-day Adventist adults. 64 were vegetarians and 79 were non-vegetarians -- omnivores.

The vegetarian group "reported significantly less negative emotion than" the omnivores -- simply put, less depression.

The second article was in the February 2012 Nutrition Journal by authors at Benedectine University in Lisle, Ill., and Arizona State. That article described how 39 people were fed three different diets -- a vegetarian diet, a meat-based diet and a meat-and-fish diet. They found that after just 14 days the vegetarians did significantly better on tests measuring anxiety, stress and depression.

The third article was in the March 2012 Public Health Nutrition journal, based on a study performed at the Center for Health Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain. Researchers employed 8,964 participants with a median follow-up of 6.2 years. This means that some of the participants were followed for less than 6.2 years and some were followed for longer periods than 6.2 years.

They looked at the relationship between the consumption of junk foods and baked goods and depression. They found folks who regularly ate those foods were 40 percent more likely to develop depression than the participants who ate little or none of those foods. It was found the risk for depression rose steadily as the aforementioned foods were eaten.

The lead author of the Spanish research, Dr. Almadena Sanchez-Villegas, advised that in view of their findings, increasing the consumption of fruits, legumes and vegetables and avoiding baked goods and junk foods was the wise thing to do.

So what can be learned from all this?

First, it now appears that a bad diet can play an important role in the development of depression and other negative moods such as anxiety, and that a diet high in fruits, vegetables and legumes can help prevent those bad emotions.

Second, if you or some of your family or friends are troubled with these problems, especially depression, it would be wise to consider a change in diet and a discussion with your health care provider.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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