How The Mediterranean Diet Can Help Reduce Your Risk of Depression

Turn that frown upside down.

(Photo: Getty)

It’s nothing new that the way we eat has a huge impact on how we feel. When we eat like shit, we feel like shit, but if we take care of ourselves and get the nutrition our bodies need, we feel amazing. You know what they say: You are what you eat!

To further support that age-old adage, a new study from researchers at University College London found that following a Mediterranean-style diet significantly reduces your risk of developing depression, so you might want to swing by the market on your way home and pick up some fresh groceries today.

In their research, the scientists analyzed 41 previous studies on the correlation between diet and depression, and four of those studies focused exclusively on the relationship between depression in 36,556 adults and consuming a Mediterranean diet.

Taking into account factors like age, sex, smoking, amount of daily physical activity, and overall health, it was determined that, without a doubt, the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing depression by 33 percent.

“We found that people with a more Mediterranean-like diet had a 33 percent lower risk of developing depression than people whose diet least resembled a Mediterranean diet,” head researcher Camille Lassale told The Conversation.

To elaborate, the reasons why this diet is beneficial for mood and mental health is because it helps prevent insulin resistance and contains plenty of anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory foods, like nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits, and wine.

These foods protect the brain from inflammation, which disrupts the normal functioning of neurotransmitters; and from oxidative stress, which ages the brain and encourages neurodegenerative diseases. Clearly, avoiding inflammation and oxidative stress is very good for you. 

Furthermore, foods found in a traditional Mediterranean diet like fish, vegetables, olive oil and other healthy fats, dairy, and legumes are high in omega-3, fiber, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols (a.k.a.micronutrients), which can all reduce the risk of depression.

Additionally, this type of diet is great for maintaining healthy gut flora, which is the good bacteria in your digestive tract that help keep your brain chemistry stable by metabolizing otherwise indigestible compounds in food — which is necessary for the absorption of vitamins and minerals that influence your mood and behavior. 

When you eat well, a.k.a. follow a Mediterranean diet for all intents and purposes, your gut microbiome flourishes and helps support healthy brain function, but when you eat lots of processed or refined foods, the good bacteria in your intestines is compromised, and that’s when health problems arise.

With that said, to always stay happy and healthy, be mindful of what you eat. A Mediterranean diet might do you some good.