Chalk up another one for the Mediterranean diet. Research has already linked it to improved cardiovascular health, a reduced risk of diabetes and increased longevity, and it seems the benefits keep stacking up for this eating plan.
In a recent study conducted by Deakin University in Melbourne, people with severe depressive disorders were put on a Mediterranean-style diet. After 12 weeks, one-third of the participants reported a significant improvement in their symptoms and mood. In contrast, only 8 per cent of participants who did not change their diet but were placed in a social support group saw a significant improvement in symptoms. [pullquote]
The researchers were quick to point out that the diet was not intended as a replacement for traditional therapies, with many of the study participants also receiving psychotherapy or pharmacology treatments. However, it does show that dietary interventions have significant potential to act as a support to other treatments designed to help depression. The study’s lead author, Professor Felice Jacka, sees a significant place for nutrition to play in treating depressive illnesses: “It’s not a stretch to consider that people coming to a doctor with depression might have a referral to a clinical dietitian.”
With increasing links being found between diet and every area of health, there might come a time when it will become unusual for any person who has consulted their doctor not to receive a referral to a clinical dietitian.
So how do you give your diet a Mediterranean makeover?
Get plenty of veggies. Aim for at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. Make sure you have a range of vegetables.
Don’t be scared of good fats. Olive oil and nuts are both regularly included as part of traditional Mediterranean diets. A small handful of nuts and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil a day can have a place in a healthy diet.
Don’t forget your legumes. Lentils, broad beans, chickpeas—the list goes on. Make sure you get the goodness of legumes regularly in your diet.
Ease off the animals. If you choose to eat meat or poultry, do so sparingly. Pack those meals with plants.