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HEALTHY MIND IN A HEALTHY BODY. HOW THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET CAN HELP DEPRESSION

HEALTHY MIND IN A HEALTHY BODY. HOW THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET CAN HELP DEPRESSION

The Mediterranean diet is not just a matter of bringing back memories of summer holidays. It is now well recognised as a healthy (and tasty!) way of eating with many benefits.

Most of us know that eating Mediterranean-style is good for heart health. There is also evidence that this menu can prolong a healthy life. New meta-analysis (i.e. study of studies) also shows that the Mediterranean diet can improve mental health, with particular positive effects on depression.

WHAT IS THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET ANYWAY?

Despite the name it is not a weight-loss regime, simply a way of eating. The people of Southern Europe have a perfect climate for growing vegetables, nuts and fruit. They also have a ready source of fish and a tradition of using olive oil. Meat and dairy foods are available but are a much lower proportion of their food intake than in other parts of the world.

HOW CAN THIS WAY OF EATING HELP MENTAL HEALTH?

The study showed that a higher-quality, less processed diet reduced the risk of developing depression by up to one-third. The reason seems to be that the foods in the Mediterranean diet reduce the risk of inflammation. This has positive effects for those suffering from diseases such as arthritis, in which the body’s natural healing response turns on itself.

There is now strong evidence of links between inflammation and depression, hence the importance of eating anti-inflammatory foods.

IS THIS EFFECT FROM THE DIET OR OTHER FACTORS?

We might wonder if those living in small Mediterranean communities also benefit from their climate and lifestyle. However results from monitoring Norwegian subjects indicate that a diet high in vegetables, fish and good fats also works for them. This is despite a radically different climate and lifestyle. So it does look like it is the food that works!

Try to eat more vegetables and fish, reduce meat consumption and load up on legumes and herbs. Eating Mediterranean style has clear benefits for mind as well as body.

 

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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