Mon, Jan 13, 2020 - Page 2 News List

Researchers say eating habits correlated to depression

By Wu Liang-yi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fruits and vegetables are displayed in an undated photograph.

Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times

There is a correlation between diet and depression, with food high in sugar and fat more likely to augment depression, while fruits, vegetables, fish and olives provide the opposite effect, a study by Macquarie University said.

The study recruited 78 participants aged from 17 to 35 with mild to severe depression. All reported having a diet that was high in sugar, saturated fat and processed foods.

The participants were separated into two groups — one that changed their dietary habits and one that maintained the same diet.

The group that altered their diet received videos on how to maintain a balanced, nutritional diet and food, including olive oil, natural nut oils and spices.

During the experiment period, the researchers telephoned the group regularly to check their adherence to the changed diet and urged them to consult the materials if they were struggling.

Participants in the other group received no material and were only asked to return in three weeks to report their situation.

The results showed that within three weeks, participants who changed their dietary habits reported a significant decrease in depression and pressure, while those maintaining their diet reported no changes.

Chiou Hung-yih (邱弘毅), a professor in Taipei Medical University’s school of public health, said the study showed that maintaining proper dietary habits could alleviate depression.

However, the group who showed improvement were given help and the change in eating habits did not last, as three months after the main part of the study was conducted, only seven people reported that they had stayed with the diet, Chiou said.

John Tung Foundation mental health center director Yeh Ya-hsing (葉雅馨) said that increasing the amount of natural food in a diet can help alleviate depression even over the short term.

Most of the participants in the study were adolescents, as people in that age range, as well as those in early adulthood, are prone to depression, Yeh said, adding that habits developed at that age usually last a long time.

Maintaining a diet that could help the body produce serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline, such as milk, fish and intestines, which are rich in B6 and B12 vitamins, helps combat depression, Yeh added.

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