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Dr Russ Blog - New Research: Healthy Eating Prevents Depression
New Research: Healthy Eating Prevents Depression
Created on 11/3/2009

Most of us experience depression from time to time, but the episodes thankfully pass and we rediscover our joys. Some people, however, are saddled with feelings of depression that don't lift until they seek help from their physicians and counselors.

Depression that persists is not a weakness; it's an illness, one we sometimes have more control over than one might think. For example, did you know that how you eat might have an impact on your mood? Most of us have some sense of this, but a recent study puts added emphasis on the idea of eating well to stay happy.

The Whitehall II study looked at civil service workers in Great Britain between the ages of 35-55 years and followed both their dietary patterns and the incidence of depression. Those who ate mainly highly processed, fried, high fat, and fast foods were significantly more likely to experience depression than those who ate the "whole food" diet of mainly fruits, vegetables, and fish. The data were recently published in The British Journal of Psychiatry.

Previous research into the association between food and mood has focused primarily on specific nutrients rather than a pattern of eating. That said, there are some studies that have already shown a decreased incidence of depression in people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet.

On the flip side, however, is another possibility. Perhaps people who are depressed eat more unhealthily. Regardless, it's clear that even when we are feeling blue, eating healthy is good for us. 

If you're feeling depressed, seemingly without motivation or energy, please talk to your doctor. Sometimes there are physical conditions that contribute to depression that can be addressed; sometimes there are issues we struggle with in our lives that worsen our moods until the issue is somehow resolved; sometimes there seems no reason for feeling so down; but always there is hope. 

Many times we have more control over our health, even our moods, than might be readily apparent. As the research suggests, hold to a healthy diet that mostly avoids highly processed and fast foods. And:

Exercise regularly.

Get adequate sleep each night.

Hang out with friends and family who make you happy.

Get outdoors.

Limit exposure to alcohol and caffeine, and please don't smoke.

And be kind to your self by getting help - while we can often take good care of ourselves, true healing takes place in community. Let others, professionals and friends, help you heal. Asking for help doesn't make you weak - it makes you more human.

When you're well, it's much easier to be happy. So be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **


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