Our Western-style eating plan, consisting of few fruits and vegetables and many high fat, high sugar choices has been associated with most of our chronic illnesses. Researchers in Finland used data from a heart disease cohort study to assess whether dietary patterns could be connected to depression risk. The study subjects answered questionnaires about their dietary patterns that placed them in one of three groups: the ‘prudent’ eaters, the ‘Western’ eaters and a ‘mixed’ group. Almost two decades later, those in the prudent group – which included fruits, vegetables, poultry and whole grains – had a 25% lower risk of depressive symptoms.
While this study lacks certain strengths, such as subsequent long-term dietary analyses, it contributes to the complex puzzle of how behaviours over time determine health. One cheeseburger won’t do you in; it is a lifestyle that favours cheeseburgers over cherries that does the damage. The study confirms there are no shortcuts to a healthy body and mind – eating foods that are hyper-processed and nutrient poor robs our bodies of the nutrients they need to function effectively, including our brains. Eating a whole foods diet, with an emphasis on plant foods such as vegetables, legumes and nuts, will help you prevent a host of disorders, from diabetes to depression.