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Diet and depression: How important a healthy diet is for our mental health

Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 17:04:03-05

Eating healthy seems to affect many aspects of our lives, preventing heart disease, dementia and cancer. Now evidence supports it can affect our mental health as well.

I’ve always said food is medicine. And when it comes to depression, researchers looking at multiple studies found some eye-opening news.  

They linked eating too much red or processed meats, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes, refined grains and sweets to an increased risk of depression.  

Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits are important. And you can pretty much reverse the food list I just mentioned–  by eating whole grains, low-fat dairy, olive oil, fish, and very little animal foods, researchers found you can lower the risk of depression.

Researchers found the risk of developing depressive symptoms was considerably lower if you had a healthy diet.  So my prescriptions:

  1. Eat lots of plant foods. Not just veggies and fruits, but also seeds, nuts and whole grains.
  2. Skip foods with added sugars and flours like baked goods, cereals and breads.  Eating them occasionally is likely fine but moderation is key.
  3. Include lean protein like fish and yogurt.  Curb your intake of processed meats and animal fats.  
  4. Choose quality over quantity  Food can really affect how your brain functions and impact your mood so please nourish it with high-quality, high-nutrient foods.

There are a number of others things that can also help. Manage your stress, get enough sleep and be physically active.  

Also, don’t isolate yourself – be sure to stay connected with loved ones.  

You know there are different types of depression so please see your doctor who can provide a diagnosis and a treatment plan that’s right for you.