RSSDiet for depression: study shows strong benefits

Posted on Mon, 30 Jan 17

Diet for depression: study shows strong benefits

Personalised dietary advice and nutrition counselling could send 30% of people with major depression into remission within 12-weeks, according to a groundbreaking new study. 

A vast body of evidence indicates that the epidemic of depression and anxiety may be in part due to dietary factors, yet there are almost no clinical trials assessing the ability of dietary interventions to improve mood. And, perhaps as a consequence, nutrition remains neglected in psychiatry. 

An important new study will undoubtedly change that and help elevate nutritional therapy in mental health care. 

The study, named the Supporting the Modification of lifestyle In Lowered Emotional States (SMILES) trial, was a randomised controlled trial (RCT) design, comprised of people with moderate to severe depression, involved 7 individual nutritional consulting sessions over 12-weeks, and was based on previously published dietary guidelines for depression

Compared to the control group, those who received dietary counselling had a significantly greater improvement in depression, independent of any changes in other factors such as body mass index, smoking, or physical activity. Remission of depressive symptoms was achieved for 32.3% in the diet and only 8.0% of the control group.

“In summary, this is the first RCT to explicitly seek to answer the question: If I improve my diet, will my mental health improve?” commented the study authors. 

“Whilst emphasising the preliminary nature of this study and the imperative for replication in studies with larger sample sizes, the results of our study suggest that dietary improvement guided by a clinical dietician may provide an efficacious treatment strategy for the management of this highly prevalent mental disorder.” 


Jacka FN, et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine 2017 15:23. Published: 30 January 2017

Tags: Diet, Depression, Mood, Anxiety, Mental Health, Orthomolecular

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