High-quality plant-based diets may lower depression risk: BMJ Study

Published On 2022-01-21 04:45 GMT   |   Update On 2022-01-21 05:27 GMT

Australia: Findings from a recent study suggest that high-quality plant-based diets may protect against depressive symptoms in vegans and vegetarians. However, there is a need for further investigation of the association between plant-based dietary quality and depression to support well-being and mood. The study appears in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. Globally,...

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Australia: Findings from a recent study suggest that high-quality plant-based diets may protect against depressive symptoms in vegans and vegetarians. However, there is a need for further investigation of the association between plant-based dietary quality and depression to support well-being and mood. The study appears in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. 

Globally, over 300 million people experience depressive symptoms. Mood disorders, including depression, are significant predictors of suicide and suicidal ideation. They are responsible for more than 800 000 global suicide-related deaths per year. Lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet could be both a cost-effective modifiable adjunct treatment to current traditional treatment options as they have been shown to impact symptoms of depression. 

Vegan and vegetarian diets which are plant-based are often considered healthy and are associated with broad health benefits, including reduced risk of ill health (cardiovascular disease, blood glucose, and type II diabetes) and obesity. However, there is no clarity on the association between plant-based diets and mood disorders such as depression. 

Against the above background, Talitha Best, Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and colleagues aimed to explore the associations between an estimate of overall plant-based diet quality and depression in vegans (n=165) and vegetarians (n=54) in a cross-sectional study of 219 adults aged 18–44 (M=31.22, SD=7.40). 

Following were the study's key findings:

  • Overall plant-based diet quality was associated with depressive symptoms in vegans and vegetarians accounting for 6% of the variation in depressive symptoms.
  • For those without depression, higher diet quality was protective against depressive symptoms.
  • For those with depression no association with diet quality was found.

To conclude, in vegans and vegetarians, a high-quality plant-based diet may be protective against depressive symptoms.

"In line with emerging research between food and mental health, higher-quality dietary patterns are linked to a reduced risk of depressive symptoms," wrote the authors. "Given the rapidly increasing rate of vegan and vegetarian food products, there is a need to understand the potential mechanisms of effects through which a plant-based diet may influence depressive symptoms. 

Reference:

Lee MF, Eather R, Best TPlant-based dietary quality and depressive symptoms in Australian vegans and vegetarians: a cross-sectional studyBMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2021;e000332. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000332

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Article Source : BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health

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