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Healthy Food As A Powerful Anti-Depressant

Update Date: Feb 20, 2017 08:20 AM EST

Healthy food is a powerful anti-depressant according to the world's first clinical trial on diet and depression. The trial revealed that indeed food has an effect on people's mood.

A study called "The SMILES Trial," published in the BMC Medicine is a ground breaking research that proves for the first time that people suffering from moderate to severe depression can improve their mood by consuming healthy food.

In the past, many surveys have been published regarding the link of healthy food to decrease risk of depression. Those were only based on questionnaires and not on actual diet experiments. No clinical trials have actually proven that unhealthy food causes depression, or that healthy food can be a powerful anti-depressant.

Professor Felice Jacka, researcher at Deakin University in Australia, put to test her theories on actual people with clinical depression. Her team recruited 67 men and women with moderate to severe form of depression who reported to be consuming not healthy food. Most of them were taking anti-depressants and were in regular psychotherapy.

Half of these depressed people were put on modified Mediterranean diet and required to attend dietary support sessions with a nutritionist. The other half continued eating their not healthy food but was required to attend the social support sessions.

Before the 12-week study started, all the participants depression symptoms were graded using the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). It rates mood from 0 to 60, with 60 as being the most severely depressed. At the end of the study, participants who were eating healthy food or in the modified Mediterranean diet, improved their scores by 11 points. Interestingly, 32 percent, or 10 out of 31 participants, scored so low that they are no longer considered as depressed.

On the other hand, participants who continued eating not healthy food have only improved their score for 4 points on the MADRS. Only eight percent, or two out of 25 subjects achieved remission. Healthy foods included in the study which could be antidepressant are whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, low fat or unsweetened dairy, raw unsalted nuts, lean read meat, chicken, fish, eggs and olive oil.

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