There’s an interesting research study in the latest edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It’s on the topic of the connection between diet quality and depression during pregnancy. You can take a look at that article, Longitudinal Analyses of Diet Quality and Maternal Depressive Symptoms During Pregnancy: the Kuopio Birth Cohort Study if you’re interested. A sentence in the abstract caught my attention though. “Depression and diet quality appear to be associated in the general population,” it read. Previously, I wasn’t aware of the evidence for such link. So, I thought I should start at the beginning and make sure I understood what the link was.
The claim that there is a connection between diet quality and symptoms of depression doesn’t seem like a stretch. It could be that certain nutrient deficiencies cause depressive symptoms. It could also be that a sense of relative deprivation causes people to feel depressed. Conversely though, the link could be that depressed people have poorer diet quality because they are depressed. Their symptoms cause them to have difficulty making better dietary choices. Let’s look into it and see what we can find.
Evidence Linking Diet Quality and Depression:
- A meta-analysis found a dose-response relationship between higher diet quality (regardless of diet type) and lower incidence of depressive symptoms. It also found relationships between low dietary inflammatory index, and the consumption of fish and vegetables. The authors state that this was not true across all of the study results they reviewed. They suggested the need for more trials.1
- One of the studies in the above meta-analysis had 3523 participants. It found that sticking to a Mediterranean Diet at midlife was associated with a lower risk of feeling depressed. This was more true in men.2
- A systematic literature review found that, in all studies reviewed found a reduction in symptoms of depression. All participants were subjected to some form of diet. These included Mediterranean diet, reduced fat diet, and diets based on the Australian Guide to Health Eating. Some increased the intake of some chemicals from plants.3
What To Think?
I could list more, but the results seem pretty clear. Increased diet quality does have some link to reduction of depression symptoms. However, their doesn’t seem to be a lot of info about why. So, what should we do? If we’re down, is the first place we look to fix thing our diet?
In my opinion, probably not. Especially considering how challenging it can be at the best of times to maintain a healthy diet. Instead, I think we should look a little more holistically at these results. I like to tell people that things that good ideas are usually good for a lot of reasons. Eating well is a good idea. Indeed heart health, quality of life, weight management and reduced risk of depressive symptoms are all reasons to have a high quality diet. These are just a few of the good reason to eat well!
See you next post! Until then, If you’re looking for something tasty to include in your diet, maybe some homemade chamoy would brighten your day!
- Diet quality and depression risk: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies – Marc Molendijk, Patricio Molero, Felipe Ortuño Sánchez-Pedreño, Willem Van der Doe, Miguel Angel Martínez-González
- Prospective association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and risk of depressive symptoms in the French SU.VI.MAX cohort – Moufidath Adjibade, Karen E Assmann, Valentina A Andreeva, Cédric Lemogne, Serge Hercberg, Pilar Galan, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot
- Depression, Is It Treatable in Adults Utilising Dietary Interventions? A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials – Simone O’Neill, Michelle Minehan, Catherine R. Knight-Agarwal, and Murray Turner