The Greek physician Hippocrates said, let food be your medicine and medicine be your food. The research of the last few years has been able to confirm what Hippocrates already affirmed in the fifth century BC, namely that the dietary choices may become our most trusted allies as regards health. But we are not only talking about body health, but also about the health of brain. In fact, as emerged from a review published a few months ago in the journal Antioxidants (Huang et al, Antioxidants, 2019), nutrition is also able to counteract depression.
Scientists used previous studies to get the data they needed. What has emerged is that a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, whole grains, fruit and fish and with a limited intake of wine and red and processed meats, is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing depression or with depression with milder symptoms. Instead, the Western-type diet rich in fats, refined carbohydrates, packaged bread, saturated fats and foods and drinks full of added sugar, is associated with an increased risk of depression and depression with more severe symptoms. The reason is all in how foods interact with the gut, if they cause inflammations and oxidative stress. In particular, the Mediterranean diet, rich in omega 3 and antioxidant substances works by reducing inflammation in the body and brain. Not only that, it also counteracts the damage of free radicals. Thanks to these actions it has been observed that the Mediterranean Diet is capable of reducing the incidence of depression for three years. The western type diet, instead, increases inflammation and oxidative stress, disturbs the work of the microbiota, namely the intestinal bacterial flora, and the gut brain axis, thus causing the degeneration of the hippocampus and a drop in nutrients, all conditions that can pave the way for depression. But the foods that can help regulate mood are also others, not all included in the Mediterranean diet. For example, benefits against depression may come from green tea, but also seaweed, mushrooms and soy products. Quinces, dates and elderberries are foods capable of keeping the mood high while lettuce and chicory act by calming anxiety.
In short, bringing healthy food to the table is a gesture of love for yourself and the others, capable of keeping the mood up and of fighting sadness and depression.