Changing Your Diet Can Help Tamp Down Depression, Boost Mood
Many people are afflicted with depression at some point in their lifetimes. Globally, it is among the most important causes of disability. Depression can be mild and brief or prolonged and severe. Seeking professional help is essential in any case. Maintaining overall wellness through diet and regular physical activity can help promote good mental health. One specific aspect of diet linked to mental health is the consumption of caffeinated coffee, which is strongly related to lower risk of depression and suicide. In both the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, women and men who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had about half the risk of suicide compared with those who didn’t drink coffee. This isn’t surprising, because coffee has long been known to have mild mood-elevating effects. We also found that consumption of flavonoid-containing fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and juices, was associated with lower risk of depression.
In spite of the intense interest in the possibility that higher intake of omega-3 fats might prevent depression, the evidence for this is weak. Some researchers have hypothesized that higher dietary intakes of omega-6 fatty acids, found in many plant oils like soybean and corn oil, could increase the risk of depression by boosting inflammation throughout the body. But higher intake of omega-6 fats may reduce inflammation. In our research on suicide risk, we saw no evidence of a reduction in suicide with a higher intake of omega-3 fats or lower intake of omega-6 fats.