Posted on Thu, 16 Jul 09
Feeling depressed or anxious? You are not alone. More than 1 in 4 people will suffer from serious anxiety and almost 1 in 5 from major depression. With anxiety and depression so common it is important to be reminded that food can affect mood and may offer a safer alternative to medication [1-3].
Dietary nutrients play an important role in supporting mental health and unhealthy dietary habits along with low intakes of several important dietary nutrients have been associated with depression and anxiety [4-7].
Anxiety and depression are in part the result of chronic stress which increases the activity of our nervous system sending it into a state of hyperactivity. This same hyperactivity of the nervous system is associated with alcoholism, obsessive compulsive behaviour and insomnia which may explain why these conditions often coexist .
Recently it was found that women who consumed healthier diets had reduced nervous system activity indicating a healthier, calmer mental state . In particular women who consumed foods close to a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, modest red wine, olive oil, whole grains, legumes and fish had a healthier stress response.
A number of studies have found a relationship between food and mood. A Mediterranean style dietary pattern provides a broad range of nutrients from healthy foods and may help prevent and manage anxiety and depression .
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Image: Bsip Chassenet, Science Photo Library.