Healthy Diet & Mood

Another research article talking about the correlation between a healthy diet and improved wellness. Stop me if you’ve heard this before!

This study comes from Australia where researchers sought to understand if diet could affect mood, specifically treat or improve depression. Not surprisingly, those test subjects who improved their diets showed a material improvement in their mood (read: happier) compared to those who received only social support. This is not to say, at all, that social support isn’t important. It absolutely is! But how many conversations are patients having with their doctors about a change and improvement in their nutritional & dietary behavior when discussing depression? Not enough.

Which Diet & Why?

The study, and this article, suggest a diet you have likely heard of before…the Mediterranean-style diet. Fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts & legumes, olive oil, lean red meat, yogurts & cheese. So, why is this diet recommended and considered effective in helping improve wellness?

  • Natural Foods, Minimal Processing
    • The Mediterranean diet is focused on quality, natural foods. That means not eating all kinds of additives and processed ingredients, fillers and sugar!
    • Unfortunately, the word “natural” is ubiquitous today, and is misleading. If you’re still eating food out of a box, a can, a wrapper or picking it up at a drive-through, you’re eating processed food that will be loaded with trans-fat oils, sugars, starches, fillers, salt and other ingredients that contribute to aging, loss of mental focus, serious diseases and even gastrointestinal issues. Common synonyms for sugar used on labels and in processed food can be found here.
  • Healthy Fats, More Vitamins & Minerals
    • Vegetables are known to be nutritional powerhouses, with critical and large amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that nourish our body. The key is to prepare/cook them appropriately.
      • Cleaned, raw vegetables, or boiled with some Italian spices & drizzled with olive oil = good!
      • Fried, breaded vegetables cooked in vegetable oils, then covered in sauces = bad!
    • Three of the foods recommended in the Mediterranean diet – fish, nuts and olive oil – are seriously high in fat. Isn’t that bad? Hardly! Fat has received a bad rap for decades, but there are good fats that your body needs, and the mainstay foods within the Mediterranean diet are high in good fats. For example, one of the problems with the American diet is we eat WAY too much processed, fatty foods with Omega-6 oils, and not nearly enough Omega-3 oils. This massive imbalance contributes to inflammation and aging in the body, and is also being reviewed as a contributor to cognitive motor and memory issues. You need both, but in balance, so the trick is to reduce the consumption of Omega-6 oils and increase the Omega-3’s substantially. Foods like fish (ie, salmon), pecans, macadamia nuts, chia seeds and eggs are all good sources. See the table below for a helpful guide to healthy fats.
  • Reduced risks & rates of serious health issues
    • The Mediterranean diet is also higher in fiber, especially when you are incorporating a lot of vegetables, some fruits and some whole grains. Fiber not only plays a role in digestive health but also contributes to a feeling of satiation, which keeps you fuller, longer, and minimizes the frequency of snacking. The result is better weight management.
    • People who follow a Mediterranean diet have lower risk of heart disease, lower incidence of diabetes, improved HDL/LDL cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Now, you can add improved ability to fight depression to the list!

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