Can This Diet Help Your Anxiety?
Treating anxiety is never a one-solution problem. But every useful strategy that we incorporate into a treatment plan can bring you one step closer to better managing your mental health. Diet is one strategy that is often overlooked in anxiety cases.
Two studies published earlier this year explore how the Mediterranean diet impacts anxiety and depression. A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience looked at over 3000 adults and found that those who adhered most closely to a Mediterranean diet had lower odds of psychological disorders like anxiety and depression compared to those who did not follow the Mediterranean diet closely.
But what part of this diet is really the most helpful for mental health? A study published this year in the European Journal of Nutrition aimed to answer this question. It was found that having more non-refined grains (e.g. whole grains) and more fruits and vegetables were associated with lower severity of depression, anxiety and fear.
An older study found that the DASH diet was associated with lower odds of anxiety and depression. The DASH diet has a lot of similarities to the Mediterranean diet. It involves high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and healthy grains and limitations on dairy, sweets, sodium, red and processed meats. Other older studies looking at various populations around the world have come to similar conclusions with the most common pattern being that more fruits and vegetables and less refined grains are important. The overall pattern of the diet is likely important too.
At this point, there are not enough studies where researchers actually put depressed and anxious people on these types of diets and monitor their symptoms. Nutrition is complicated and difficult to study in this way, but fingers crossed we’ll get more positive trials like this in the future.
A good diet plan needs to incorporate your personal preferences, your schedule and your lifestyle. I always discuss diet with my patients when managing anxiety and depression. I often connect patients with local dietitians who can help them see what their meals will look like if they incorporate certain changes into their diet. It takes teamwork and multiple different strategies to thoroughly address mood disorders. Thorough treatment is what you deserve.
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected]