A healthy diet may reduce the risk of severe depression, while junk foods significantly contribute to the condition's development, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland who tracked more than 2,000 men for 13 years — assessing their diet, weight, and depressive symptoms — found those who ate a poor diet with lower intakes of healthy nutrients were more likely to suffer from the mental health condition, compared to those with better dietary habits.
"The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention," said lead researcher Anu Ruusunen.
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The results showed a diet heavy on vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower rate of depression and less severe symptoms.
Increased intake of folate and coffee was also associated with a decreased risk of depression.
But men who ate a lot of sausages, processed meats, sugary desserts and snacks, sweetened drinks, manufactured foods, white bread, and baked or processed potatoes were more likely to suffer from depression and have more severe symptoms.
Depression is typically treated medically and through psychotherapy, but the Finnish researchers suggested diet and other lifestyle factors may offer new avenues for the treatment and prevention of the condition.
The research was published in the journals Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, European Journal of Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition and Diabetic Medicine.
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