A randomized controlled trial published in the journal PLOS ONE finds that symptoms of depression dropped significantly among a group of young adults after they followed a Mediterranean-style pattern of eating for three weeks. Participants saw their depression "score" fall from the "moderate" range down to the "normal" range, and they reported lower levels of anxiety and stress too. Alternatively, the depression scores among the control group of participants -- who didn't change their diets -- didn't budge. These participants continued to eat a diet higher in refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugary foods and beverages. Their depression scores remained in the "moderate severity" range.
In this study, participants in the "healthy eating" arm of the study ate about six more servings of fruits and vegetables per week, compared with the control group. Participants "who had a greater increase in fruit and vegetable intake showed the greatest improvement in depression symptoms," Francis said. Participants were also instructed to increase consumption of whole grains to a recommended three servings per day, as well as three servings per day of protein from lean meats, poultry, eggs, tofu and beans. In addition, they were told to get three servings of fish per week. As for dairy, the recommendation was three servings per day, unsweetened. Participants were also instructed to consume three tablespoons of nuts and seeds per day, as well as two tablespoons of olive oil per day, and were advised to add in spices, including turmeric and cinnamon.
Instead of relying on the participants' recollection of what they ate in the past, they used a device called a spectrophotometer to scan the participants' palms and detect what was eaten. "The device can detect the degree of yellowness in your skin, which correlates with your intake of carotenoids, which you get from eating fruits and vegetables," reports NPR.
The scientists also used several research questionnaires to evaluate participants' mental health, including one that asked them how often over the prior week they'd experienced symptoms of depression.
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/20 ... boost-mood
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/artic ... ne.0222768
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