A Mediterranean diet is the one of the best nutritional strategies on the planet. And the fruits and vegetables that are a fundamental part of this diet are a tonic for the brain.
It has been discovered that a Mediterranean style diet is ideal for the upkeep of the human mind. The fruits, vegetables, nuts, lentils and lean meats that are part and parcel of the diet play a key role in warding off depression, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.
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The experiment had 15,093 individuals in it. And it proved that depression often occurred due to a deficiency of certain essential nutrients in the diet. For the first time, the deep connection between nutrition and psychological well-being is being studied with focus and interest.
Several recommendations have emerged from the research. Three dietary regimens were examined. One of these was the Mediterranean diet and the other two were the Pro-Vegetarian and the Alternative Healthy Eating varieties of smart nutrition.
Those who were test subjects in the study stuck to their respective diets with tenacity and perseverance. Such unhealthy items as processed meats and sweets were cut out from the daily intake. And healthy fare such as fruits, vegetables and nuts were included in the usual intake.
The results were conclusive. Besides helping the body fight off all the degenerative diseases, the diets that were high in fresh fruits and leafy green vegetables were more likely to lead to mental peace of mind and happiness.
All signs of depression or ennui simply vanished without a trace. Thus whatever chemical imbalance had been causing the blues and mood swings seemed to get resolved thanks to eating fresh produce. Especially the omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in the live foods were essential for brain function. They had a salubrious effect on the mind.
Lead researcher, Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, says "We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds. These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health."
"The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression."
Among the prophylactic measures was a reduced intake of alcohol. It looked like the more people ate natural whole foods, the more their health (physical, mental and emotional) seemed to improve by leaps and bounds.
The way our ancestors ate is ideal for the human body. And even reverting to the diet enjoyed by our great grandparents will bring about changes that are for the best in our constitutions.
Almudena Sanchez-Villegas says, "A threshold effect may exist. The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet. Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression. However, we saw no extra benefit when participants showed high or very high adherence to the diets."
"So, once the threshold is achieved, the reduced risk plateaus even if participants were stricter with their diets and eating more healthily. This dose-response pattern is compatible with the hypothesis that suboptimal intake of some nutrients (mainly located in low adherence levels) may represent a risk factor for future depression."
The Mediterranean diet was the ideal strategy and it worked like magic in repelling the bacteria of depression. There is definitely more to the role of food in preserving mental health. But this study proves that nutrition can prevent you from going nuts!