The American Journal of Psychiatry published a new study showing the influence of diet on mental health; specifically depression and anxiety. A University of Melbourne research team compared the effects of a “whole foods” diet to a standard “Western” diet on people’s mood. The whole foods diet consisted of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and pasture raised meats where the western diet was high in processed foods, sugar and saturated fats. This study is unique in that it focuses on the effects of an entire diet versus isolating specific nutrients.
The authors reported a 30% reduction in the likelihood of depression and anxiety in individuals consuming whole foods. More notable was the 50% increased likelihood of depression in the group following a western diet! Pasture-raised meat, which has a healthier balance of essential fatty acids with more omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) and less omega-6’s (pro-inflammatory), was an important piece of the whole foods diet according to the researchers.
Dietary components interact with proteins found in the brain. The functioning and regeneration of the nervous system depends on the amount and activity of these proteins. Diets high in saturated fats and sugar decrease these proteins and inhibit their activity. Furthermore, areas of the brain that control learning, memory, and emotions are also influenced by these proteins and show a negative response to a “Western” diet. The take home message is that routinely eating foods high in sugar and saturated fats will predispose individuals to mental, emotional and physical disease.
How do you know if your diet is setting you up for happiness and health? Visit your local naturopath and make sure your diet is well balanced and incorporating all the essentials to keep you living free of physical, mental or emotional disease. If you are experiencing any mood imbalances, stop in to see how your diet can be adjusted to help with recovery. Substituting conventionally raised meat for pasture-raised, hormone/antibiotic free meat is a great way to start incorporating a healthier diet into a healthier you.
i. Cassels, Caroline. Medscape Medical News; medscape.com/ viewarticle/715239. January 15, 2010.
By Marsha Hamilton