Dietary Patterns and Risk of Depression

Several observational studies conducted over the past decade have demonstrated strong associations between overall dietary patterns and mental illness, with depression being a focus of such studies. For instance, dose-dependent relationships have been found between “fast-food” consumption, as well as “processed food” (high in sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains), and risk of depression.  The consumption of “commercial baked goods” (muffins, doughnuts, croissants), high in simple carbohydrates, has also been shown to be positively correlated, though not linearly, with depression.  In contrast, both a “whole food” diet (high in vegetables, fruit, fish) and the Mediterranean diet  (also high in vegetables, fruit, & fish, along with legumes & olive oil) have demonstrated significant protective benefits against depression.  Similarly, a 3-year randomized trial, found the Mediterranean diet, when supplemented with nuts, to reduce the risk of depression in patients with diabetes by 41% compared to the control group.  Finally, a study examining both depression and anxiety in women found a “traditional” diet (high in vegetables, fruit, wild fish, pasture-raised meat) to be protective whereas the “western” diet (high in processed/fried foods, refined grains, sugary products, beer) was associated with an increased risk.  For more information, please see the following reference links:

Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age: the Whitehall II study

Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression

Mediterranean dietary pattern and depression: the PREDIMED randomized trial

Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression

Association of Western and Traditional Diets with Depression and Anxiety in Women

Incorporating Nutritional
Psych Education

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