M ore good news on the Mediterranean Diet
The possible therapeutic impact of dietary changes on existing mental illness is largely unknown. Using a randomised controlled trial design, researchers aimed to investigate the efficacy of dietary improvement (the ‘SMILES’ study) for the treatment of major depressive episodes.
The researchers followed 67 Australian individuals with a history of depression and poor dietary habits. Study participants were randomly sorted into two groups: One group received dietary intervention and the second group received social support. In addition to the interventions, both groups were being treated with a mixture of anti-depressive medication and/or therapy.
The diet that was taught to the Dietary Support group followed a whole-foods Mediterranean approach, described as follows:
“The primary focus was on increasing diet quality by supporting the consumption of the following 12 key food groups (recommended servings in brackets): whole grains (5–8 servings per day); vegetables (6 per day); fruit (3 per day); legumes (3–4 per week); lowfat and unsweetened dairy foods (2–3 per day); raw and unsalted nuts (1 per day); fish (at least 2 per week); lean red meats (3–4 per week), chicken (2–3 per week); eggs (up to 6 per week); and olive oil (3 tablespoons per day), whilst reducing intake of ‘extra’ foods, such as sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks (no more than 3 per week).”
After 12 weeks of the intervention, the dietary support group showed a significantly greater improvement on the depression rating scale than the social support group. This study is still preliminary, but it suggests that dietary improvement may be an effective strategy to help treat depression.
Eggs are a nutritious whole-food and an important contributor to a healthy dietary pattern. They are a source of high quality protein and other important nutrients such as carotenoids, vitamin D, B12, selenium and choline which all play a role to help improve diet quality.¡