Here’s What These Women Ate to Treat Their Anxiety and Depression

Try It: Mediterranean Diet

  • Get your starch fix with whole grains and legumes.
  • Fill up on plenty of fruits and veggies.
  • Focus on eating fatty fish, like salmon or albacore tuna, in place of red meat.
  • Add in healthy fats, like raw nuts and olive oil.
  • Enjoy sweets and wine in moderation.

The Mediterranean diet is more about what you’re adding in — fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, and fatty fish and olive oil (high in omega-3s).

One study looked at 166 people who were clinically depressed, some being treated with medication. The researchers found that after 12 weeks of eating a modified Mediterranean diet, the participants’ symptoms were significantly better.

An earlier study from 2011 found that when medical students increased their omega-3 fatty acid intake, their anxiety reduced by 20 percent (though with no changes to depression), while in 2016, Spanish researchers found people who followed the Mediterranean lifestyle closest were 50 percent less likely to develop depression than those who didn’t follow the diet as well.

Try It: DASH Diet

  • Embrace whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Get protein from chicken, fish, and nuts.
  • Switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy.
  • Limit sweets, sugary drinks, saturated fats, and alcohol.

Alternatively, the DASH diet is about what you’re taking out, namely sugar.

A 2017 study that Knüppel led analyzed the sugar intake of over 23,000 people. They found that men who ate the most sugar — 67 or more grams a day, which is 17 teaspoons of sugar (or just under two cans of Coke) — were 23 percent more likely to develop depression or anxiety over five years compared to those in the bottom third who logged less than 40 grams a day (10 teaspoons).

And new research from Rush University Medical Center (which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting) reports that among older adults, those who followed the DASH diet closely were less likely to develop depression over six-and-a-half years compared to those who followed a Western diet.

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