Real food – for body, mind and soul

We’ve all fallen victim to emotional eating, but how much can food impact our mood – or even influence our mental health?

Harvard Health Publishing reports research using data from large observational studies has found links, for example a 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate more vitamin D–rich foods had a lower risk of depression than women who got less vitamin D in their diets.

However, while to date there is little evidence regarding direct risk of depression associated with unhealthy dietary habits, a 2014 study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found an association between depression and a diet rich in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, and red meat.

However, as with other studies to date, because there are so many different factors associated with depression scientists have found it difficult to tease out exactly how much a specific food or dietary pattern affects risk.

Lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, drinking, exercise and sleep could all potentially affect depression risk, but they do not act independently, often creating virtuous or vicious circles of habits. On top of this is the complex interaction between genetics and environment.

However, even allowing for this, there is consistent evidence for a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern and lower risk of depression: lots of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, and lean protein such as chicken and fish, and low in red meat and unhealthy fats.

At the very least such a diet will reduce the risk of other chronic conditions, which may indirectly contribute to reducing the risk of depression.

Make eating real food Just Routine

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