The link between diet and depression is meaningful in an at-risk population. In only the second study ever conducted in young adults looking at the therapeutic impact of diet on depression, researchers found that a short 3-week dietary intervention, utilizing a diet comprised of vegetables, fruits, other whole plant foods, fish and lean meats, resulted in significantly lower self-reported depression symptoms. The randomized controlled trial consisted of 38 study participants in each group – the diet and the control groups – and reduced depression scores remained significantly lower in follow-up calls three months post study. PLoS One
Takeaway: Approximately one fifth of the adult population suffers from depression symptoms with only a little over one third of these individuals seeking treatment. The findings from this study, and the fact that participants in the diet group had high rates of compliance, show that diet can be a viable and effective treatment for depression symptoms in young adults. If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety and/or depression, adopting a healthier diet could be a meaningful first step in improving symptoms. For more information, check out Dr. Chutkan’s book, The Microbiome Solution, where she lays out specific foods to focus on and to avoid for improved gut, and in turn, mental health.