(KUTV) Salt Lake City - May is National Mental Health Month. A growing body of scientific research is showing that a “Mediterranean style” can not only prevent depression, but can reverse it after it’s started. Dr. Shawn Talbott visited Fresh Living today to discuss his Mental Wellness Diet for reducing stress and boosting mood.
Scientists have known for at least a decade that a diet high in processed and highly refined foods increases depression risk in adults, teens, and kids. In a series of ground-breaking research studies conducted over the last year, scientists from Australia, Chicago, and New York City have shown that a few very simple dietary changes can significantly improve mood and dramatically reverse depression within as little as several weeks. In one study, people with major depression were able to reverse their disease within 3 months (BMC Medicine, January 2017) – even when other treatments such as synthetic antidepressant drugs were less effective and higher in side effects.
A larger follow-up study showed the mood boost lasted at least 6 months (Nutritional Neuroscience, December 2017). Just last month (April 2018), new research studies have shown depression-prevention in elderly adults eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (Rush University Medical Center at American Academy of Neurology) – and lower fatigue (-64%), depression (-55%), and tension (-45%) in stressed-out adults taking a probiotic/prebiotic supplement (Amare Fundamentals at Experimental Biology). Many scientists and health professionals are starting to think about depression as a condition of an “unhealthy brain” – so just as we nourish and strengthen the heart to improve cardiovascular health, we also need to do the same for our brain.
We also need to keep in mind that we really have TWO brains that need nourishing – the one in our head and the one in our gut (the “2nd brain”) that includes the trillions of bacteria called our microbiome (that produce up to 90% of our feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin). Just as an unhealthy diet high in processed foods promotes inflammation (believed to be a cause of virtually every disease, from heart disease to diabetes to depression), a healthy Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits/vegetables, olive oil, legumes, nuts, yogurt, cheese, whole grains, and fish (with red meat and red wine in moderation) will nourish our brains(s), reduce inflammation, and modulate our microbiome.
Perhaps even more compelling than the dramatic health benefits of the right foods for preventing and treating depression, is the fact that this way of eating is both easy and delicious. My own “Mental Wellness Diet” (MWdiet for short) is a super-charged version of the Mediterranean diet that addresses the 3 primary anti-depression factors:
1. Brain Nutrients (Vitamin B6, Omega-3 fats, Flavonoids, Tocotrienols)
3. Microbiome DocTalbott’s MW diet Shopping List
Fruits & Vegetables: Unlimited amounts – choose brighter options grown as close to home as possible.
- Sweet potatoes
- Peas (frozen is OK)
- Berries (frozen is OK)
- Grapes (including red wine, in moderation) Beans & Legumes (canned is OK)
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Garbanzo (Chickpeas)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Nuts – Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds, Macadamias, Pistachios
- Whole Grain Pasta
- Brown Rice
Dairy, Cheese, and Fermented Foods:
- Greek Yogurt, Icelandic Skyr, or other yogurt (look for lower sugar and higher fat content)
- Whole Organic Milk
- Kombucha (fermented tea)
- Cheeses of your choice (in moderation)
- Sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies such as cucumbers/pickles, beets, carrots, turnips)
- Shrimp (frozen is OK)
- Lean Pork
- Lean Beef (in moderation)
Herbs & Spices: