Can a Med diet help combat depression in later life?

Research from Greece presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco earlier this year suggests maintaining a Mediterranean-type diet may protect against symptoms of depression in later life.

The Med diet has long been recognized as good for physical health as well as associated with longer life and reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It may also have protective effects against cognitive decline in older individuals.

Greek researchers conducted a cross-sectional study among the members of day-care centres for seniors. Some 64% reported medium adherence to the Mediterranean diet and 34% showed high adherence. Nearly a quarter screened positive for depressive symptoms, with depression more common in women than in men. The researchers found diets higher in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol were associated with decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression later in life.

While the study does not prove cause and effect and might reflect that people with depression have more difficulty maintaining healthy diets, exercise and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, it seems reasonable to consider that the ill health and deteriorating quality of life caused by too much processed food might certainly help contribute to depression.

A Mediterranean-style diet generally emphasizes eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, using olive oil, eating dairy products, fish and poultry in moderation, and limiting red meat and sweets, but more of this in the next few weeks!

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