Connection Between Diet and Depression

“Research shows an association between dietary patterns that are rich in fruits and vegetables and lower in processed foods with improved mood and well-being ratings, as well as a lower risk for depression,” says Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., WW Chief Scientific Officer.

One recent study published in the journal Nutrients found that people who consumed greater amounts of fruits and vegetables reported greater levels of optimism and self-efficacy.

And a systematic review published in the European Journal of Nutrition looked at 16 observational studies and showed that people who ate more fast food, sweets, and sugary soft drinks had an increased risk of developing depression, while those who followed a healthier pattern of eating, including a Mediterranean style diet, seemed to have a protective effect on the development of depression over time.

However, while fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with greater well-being, Foster says there’s no real scientific evidence that suggests that fruit and vegetable consumption causes improved mood. “Instead, it is an observed association between patterns of eating and mental health,” he says.

“We just don’t know enough at the moment to draw firm conclusions about the link between dietary intake and depression,” Foster says. Additionally, he says more research is needed to see whether diets that are high in fat and sugar are linked to changes in mood and depression risk.

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