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Monday, March 29, 2010

Depression, Nutrition, and Psychiatry

How wonderful that official organisms such as the American Journal of Psychiatry are finally agreeing that diet can influence mental health. In a recent study by Marlene P. Freeman, M.D., a traditional, a western, and a modern diet were compared:

"Obesity has been identified as a priority area by the National Institute of Mental Health, and studies have demonstrated that more healthful eating patterns are associated with better cardiovascular health. We currently lack data from randomized, controlled trials to demonstrate the efficacy of healthful eating on psychiatric disorders. However, a growing body of epidemiologic evidence supports a relationship between nutrition and mental health. Manifestations of nutritional deficiencies include psychiatric symptoms, and single nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and folate have received attention in epidemiologic and treatment studies targeting mental health. Now, new evidence is emerging regarding specific food intake patterns and risk of depression."

"A traditional diet was associated with a lower risk of a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, and a western diet was associated with a higher rate of depressive disorders."

"Two prospective cohort studies from Spain (6) and the United Kingdom also provide information regarding the relationship between depression and patterns of nutritional intake. In the Spanish study, the Mediterranean dietary pattern was found to confer protection against the development of depression. [...] Particular inverse associations with incident depression were noted with higher consumption of fruit, nuts, and legumes, as well as a higher ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids. In the U.K. study, a dietary pattern containing higher amounts of processed foods was associated with a higher risk of subsequent development of depressive symptoms. Dietary patterns were assessed for "whole foods" (with fruit, vegetables, and fish characteristic of intake) and processed foods (largely represented by processed meat and bread products and high-fat dairy products). After adjustment for confounding variables, persons in the group with the highest intake of whole foods had the lowest rate of depressive symptoms on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale."

"It is both compelling and daunting to consider that dietary intervention at an individual or population level could reduce rates of psychiatric disorders. There are exciting implications for clinical care, public health, and research."

Read entire article here

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