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A strong link between nutrition and depression

Grant H. Brenner

“You are what you eat” is a simple way to communicate that what we eat is important to our health and well-being on a vital level. Given the power of the More and more research is revealing.

What we eat not only has a direct impact in terms of nutrient abundance, but also interactions with gut bacteria (microbiome and use of psychobiotics to address mental health), inflammation, etc. Related factors also influence. Energy metabolism (mitochondrial function, nutrition, etc.), anti-aging medicine. Effects on memory and cognition – sometimes included under the rubric “nutritional psychiatry”.

Of course, diet and nutrition are important aspects of social behavior that break the bread. For many reasons, a social life is as essential to your health as your personal efforts, and adds a layer of subtlety to your food choices. . While small studies are interesting and often drive individual behavior (e.g. dietary changes or taking supplements after reading something online), population-based studies It gives you more robust data to help you make decisions.1

sensible diet

The Nutrition and Happiness Coin has two sides. Another is how wise eating, sometimes called “food as medicine,” can improve health and longevity while maintaining or enhancing pleasure. For example, the Mediterranean diet, which reduces the risk of depression, is also delicious.

Lanny McCudden/Pexels

Source: Rarnie McCudden/Pexels

cutting edge

Our understanding of food, lifestyle and health is growing exponentially, reflecting a growing collective consciousness. For example, a recent article on NPR called for a coordinated, multi-pronged approach with seven elements:

  1. Treat food as medicine.
  2. Pay attention not only to the quantity, but also to the quality of calories.
  3. Expand access to dietary and lifestyle counseling.
  4. Support food entrepreneurs.
  5. Increase the number of new farmers growing healthy foods using regenerative farming techniques.
  6. Free school meals for all students.
  7. Establish a federal food tour.

Underlying many of the above initiatives is the need for a better understanding of the role of adequate nutrition and the detrimental effects of inadequate nutrition. population-based studies on the role of nutrition on depression are limited, despite the Affective Disorder Journal (2022) address this gap in the literature.

Researchers Owczarek, Jurek, Nolan, and Shevlin used the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to include data from approximately 5,000 US adults. in this study. Although the NHANES study covers a wide range of measures, they focused specifically on nutrition and depression.

The NHANES study collects information about participants’ dietary habits through two in-depth interviews in order to estimate the nutritional value of the foods they eat. This data was used to determine his daily intake levels of calories, fiber, folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. it was done. good nutrition. For each nutrient, participants were recorded as meeting or not meeting their daily requirements. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).

Statistics included age, gender, marital status, education level, weight, income, and related factors, as well as medical data such as smoking and diagnoses of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis. . We analyzed the data to identify the nutritional status most suitable for depression. In this type of study, the goal is to build a model based on the number of categories that best explain the overall pattern. Technically, it’s a “latent class analysis”.

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A Broad Class of Nutrition Affects Depression Risk

Nearly 10% of the NHANES samples exceeded the cutoff point, suggesting clinically significant depression. Four classes of nutritional status tracked in depression.

  1. undernutrition class (35.3%) were low in folic acid, fiber, vitamin K and magnesium, had moderate to high levels of other nutrients measured, and had higher depression scores compared to the adequate nutrition class (#2) .
  2. Adequate Nutrient Class (27.6%) had, on average, lower depression scores among those with higher nutrient values, except for lower dietary fiber and vitamin K. This group was also associated with higher education level.
  3. low fiber and magnesium class (22.6%), similar to the adequate nutrition class, but low in fiber and magnesium. On average, depression scores were low. People in this group tended to be heavier compared to class 4.
  4. nutritional deficiency class (14.5%) were nutrient deficient across the spectrum and had the highest mean depression score. Men were more likely to be in this class.

Nutrition class contributed up to 10% of the difference in depression scores, suggesting that diet has a significant but limited effect on depression.

Undernutrition was associated with the highest levels of depression. Age and income protected from undernourishment. The study authors reported that previous studies found that mental illness was associated with reduced intake of vitamins and minerals, a finding also found in current data.2

Effects on diet and future directions of nutritional psychiatry

The strongest association with depression was in the nutritional deficiency class, highlighting the importance of overall nutritional status.

While this study supports the overall idea that a balanced diet is important for maintaining mood, specific factors such as fiber and magnesium intake (associated with obesity) are important for individuals. We emphasize that there is a possibility

    Brett Kavanaugh/Unsplash

Source: Bret Kavanaugh/Unsplash

The relationship between nutritional status and depression is complex. This early population-based study provides a basis for understanding how nutrition is related to depression. , follow large numbers of people across generations to identify powerful causative nutritional factors that can be addressed to reduce common risk of mental illness and inform rational treatment regimens. .

In the meantime, eat a balanced diet, follow the best recommendations for an overall healthy diet, address individual factors, including inflammation and other medical conditions, and reduce identified risk factors. , taking a holistic and individualized approach with attention to many lifestyle factors leads to better well-being.

In this study, overall nutrition was more important than specific factors. So far, no magic bullets.

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