An analysis of data involving approximately 46,000 individuals has revealed that fat reduction, nutrient boosting, and weight loss diets can all help reduce depression symptoms.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
According to the researchers, many studies have been unable to definitively determine if improvement of diet could benefit mental health. This study however aggregated all existing clinical trial data involving diets specifically for mental health conditions.
The analysis provides compelling evidence that dietary improvement helps reduce depression symptoms significantly, even in individuals without a diagnosed depressive disorder.
The overall evidence for diet’s impact on mood and mental well-being had not yet been evaluated. This meta-analysis has however done exactly that; demonstrating that implementing a healthier diet can improve mood. It has however no evident impact on anxiety.
Data were combined from 16 randomized controlled trials which looked at the impact that dietary interventions had on anxiety and depression symptoms. 16 eligible trials with data for 45,826 individuals were included; most of which looked at non-clinical depression samples.
The study discovered that all kinds of dietary improvement seemed to have an equal impact on mental health, with nutrient-improving, fat reduction, or weight-loss diets all having comparable benefits for symptoms of depression. The similar impact from any kind of dietary improvement indicates that highly- specialized or specific diets aren’t necessary for the average person.
Instead, just implementing simple changes is just as effective for mental health benefits. In particular, consuming more nutrient-dense veggie and fiber-rich meals high, while reducing refined sugars and fast foods seems to be adequate for preventing the potentially negative psychological impact of a ‘junk food’ diet.
These results add to the mounting evidence that supports lifestyle interventions as a viable method for dealing with depression and low mood. The study results specifically found that a greater improvement in symptoms of depression was experienced by individuals when exercise was combined with dietary interventions. Overall, the data highlights the important role of consuming a healthier diet and participating in regular exercise as a practical treatment for helping individuals with low mood.
Those studies examined involving female participants revealed even greater dietary intervention benefits for both anxiety and depression symptoms.