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New research shows diet’s importance for preventing depression

You know how it is - no buses in sight, then two come along at once.  It's been a bit similar for good research on diet and depression.  There have been plenty of studies on individual components of diet and mood (e.g. fish, folate, other B vitamins), but very little on the possible psychological effects of diet as a whole.  Then in October's edition of Archives of General Psychiatry, along came:

Recent research: diet associated depression, weight & violence, vitamin D fall prevention, IBS & anxiety, yoga & mindfulness

Here are a mixed bag of six recent research papers on diet, vitamin D, IBS and yoga (all details & abstracts to these studies are listed further down this blog post).  The first three papers highlight the toxic effects on psychological health, physical health, and society of our processed, high sugar diets.  Sanchez-Villegas et al map a bit more clearly the potential link between diet and depression.  They conclude "Our results suggest a potential protective role of the MDP (Mediterranean dietary pattern) with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders; additional longitudinal studies and trials are needed to confirm these findings."  Fiorito et al show that intake of sweetened drinks in 5 year old girls predicts overweight over subsequent childhood and adolescence, and - rather scarily - Moore & colleagues show a link between confectionary consumption at age 10 and subsequent violence in adulthood.  They concluded "Children who ate confectio

Recent research: 3 studies on diet & (cardiovascular) health, 2 on fish oil, dementia & postpartum depression, and 1 on walnuts!

Here are half a dozen studies on diet (see below for all abstracts and links).  The first three are about the benefits of healthy lifestyle.  Trichopoulou & colleagues evaluated the contribution of nine widely accepted components of the Mediterranean diet (high intake of vegetables, fruits and nuts, legumes, fish, and cereals; low intake of meat and dairy; high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated lipids; and moderate intake of ethanol) in the inverse association of this diet with all cause mortality.  They concluded that "The dominant components of the Mediterranean diet score as a predictor of lower mortality are moderate consumption of ethanol, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil, and legumes.

Recent research: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on weight, sugared drinks, vitamin D, vegetarianism & climate change

I like the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN).  It comes out monthly and nearly always has an article or two that I find interesting and helpful.  The AJCN May edition produced a bumper crop.  Interesting articles included a report by Chen and colleagues (see below for all abstracts) on the effects of encouraging people to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB).  In the 810 US adults they studied, 19% of total daily energy intake came from drinks.  They found "A reduction in liquid calorie intake had a stronger effect than did a reduction in solid calorie intake on weight loss. Of the individual beverages, only intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) was significantly associated with weight change. A reduction in SSB intake of 1 serving/d was associated with a weight loss of 0.49 kg ... at 6 mo and of 0.65 kg ...

Recent research: six papers on helping children & adolescents

Here are half a dozen papers on helping kids and adolescents.  The Fuligni et al paper found that adolescents experiencing frequent interpersonal stresses tended to have increased levels of C-reactive protein, " ... an inflammatory marker that is a key indicator of cardiovascular risk ... ".  Jackson et al showed that in preschool kids each extra hour of regular TV viewing is associated with an extra 1 kg of body fat.  This appeared to be due to increases in calorie intake rather than reduction in physical activity.  Decreased family accommodation is associated with improved outcome in paediatric OCD, Merlo et al found.  Naylor et al found that a six lesson teaching block on mental health benefitted young teenagers.  Proctor et al provide a free full text overview of teenage life satisfaction assessment measures, while Wilkinson and colleagues report on 28 week follow-up in a treatment trial for depressed adolescents.  The authors found "Depression at 28 weeks was predicted by the additive effects of severity, obsessive-compulsive disorder and suicidal ideation at entry together with presence of at least one disappointing life event over the follow-up period.

Recent research: five papers on overweight - mortality, cardiovascular risk, diets, and schools

Here are five papers mostly looking at aspects of overweight.  The first, published recently in the Lancet, is a huge study on the effects of body-mass index (BMI) on subsequent mortality in nearly 900,000 adults.  It shows progressive excess mortality above the BMI range 22.5-25 kg/m2.  (To calculate your BMI click here).  At 40-45 kg/m2, the reduction in life expectancy of 8-10 years is comparable to the effects of being a smoker.  The second paper, by Neovius et al, also involved large numbers - over 45,000 older adolescents.  Again it showed excess mortality at long term follow-up, and commented "Obesity and overweight were as hazardous as heavy and light smoking, respectively".  The third study by Katseva et al looked at modifiable risk factors in European patients with cardiac disease.  The findings were depressing with obesity, for example, increasing stepwise from 25% at first survey, to 32.6% at second, to 38% at third survey.  Overall the authors concluded "These time trends show a compelling need for more effective lifestyle management of patients with coronary heart disease ... To salvage the acutely ischaemic myocardium without addressing the underlying causes of the disease is futile; we need to invest in prevention." 

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