Sydney - A 13-minute video on nutrition, basket of healthy foods, and voucher for the grocer have encouraged students to eat healthier in randomized study. This led to reduction in the participants' depressive symptoms. The results were published in PLOS ONE (2019; doi:).
Many patients with depression have an extremely unhealthy diet and there are indications that this is not just consequence of the disease. The clinical neuropsychologist Heather Francis from Macquarie University in Sydney can not only refer in her publication to epidemiological studies according to which an unhealthy diet is associated with an increased risk of disease.
There are also randomized controlled studies in which one Nutritional intervention has relieved symptoms of depression. This includes, for example, the SMILES study, in which nutritional counseling significantly reduced the depressive symptoms of older adults (average age 40 years). A total of 32.3% of the patients achieved remission compared to only 8.0% in the control group (2017).
Francis now has nutritional intervention in 76 students (ages 17 to 35 years) in new randomized study ), which during an initial examination had an increased level of depression (more than 7 points in the "Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale 21").
Most students accept the dietitian's recommendations h2 >
The students were randomly assigned to an intervention group and control group. The intervention group was shown 13-minute video of dietitian asking them to change their eating habits (they could later watch the video online on website). All participants received grocery basket with healthy foods and shopping voucher for the equivalent of 60 US dollars as motivation. All participants were later called twice more by the nutritionist to motivate them. The control group received no diet instructions. The participants were only invited to follow-up examination after 3 weeks.
As Francis reports, most of the students adhered to the diet recommendations. This was not only shown by the answers to questionnaire. The researchers also used spectrophotometer to measure the change in skin color that occurs as result of increased uptake of flavonoids. Flavonoids are colorants in fruits and vegetables that change the complexion.
The diet had had positive effect on the depressive symptoms.In the CESD-R ("Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale") there was decrease from 20.56 to 14.62 points, while the value in the control group rose slightly from 20.28 to 20.81. There was also an improvement in the 3 components of the DASS (Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale) on depression, anxiety and stress.
The authors contacted 33 participants in the diet consultation again after 3 months. Only 21 patients (without further meal vouchers) continued to adhere to the recommendations. In these patients, however, according to Francis, beneficial effect on the depressive symptoms was still demonstrable.