Sequel to the sudden rise in suicide cases in Nigeria, which psychiatrists have closely linked to depression, a new study has found that regular consumption of Mediterranean Diet, could help wade off depression and its symptoms.
According to the recent statistics released from the Federal Ministry of Health, 30 percent of Nigerians suffer from mental illnesses.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, noted that with a population of about 200 million, Nigeria has a high rate of mental illness. This implies that Nigeria has about 60 million persons with mental illnesses.
The study, conducted by researchers from Hellenic Open University in Patra Greece, found that people who adhere to a Mediterranean diet appear less likely to develop symptoms of depression later on in life.
The study has evidence which indicated that following a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, and cereals, can bring many health benefits, including protection against cardiovascular and metabolic problems.
Mediterranean diets include meals that are high in vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruit, whole grains, with less fish, dairy, and poultry-based foods, and as little red meat as possible.
The researchers also found that a diet rich in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol was associated with a decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression later in life.
Moreover, people who follow Mediterranean-style diets use olive oil for cooking, which is a good source of mono saturated fat.
According to the findings reported on Medical news today, Mediterranean diet is a healthful, nutritious diet, and many studies seem to support this claim. Researchers have also shown that this diet can significantly reduce cardiovascular risk, and it may slow down bone loss in osteoporosis, promote anticancer mechanisms, and support brain health.
The study co-author and former British Association of Stroke Physicians, Executive Committee member. Dr Phyo Mint, wanted to see if the benefits of the diet held up after looking at gender and risk factors would have any effect. He therefore provided clinicians and the public with information regarding the potential benefits of eating a Mediterranean-style diet for stroke prevention, regardless of cardiovascular risk.
Overall, participants in the study who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 17 percent less likely to develop strokes. The study, conducted in Norfolk, England, looked at over 23,000 white men and women between 40 and 77 years of age.
But when they divided the groups into men and women, there was a big difference: Women showed a 22 percent stroke reduction, using the Mediterranean diet, but men showed only a 6 percent drop.
The scientists found that participants who had a high adherence to a Mediterranean diet specifically one that had a high vegetable content, but little poultry products, and low alcohol consumption had a lower likelihood of developing depression or symptoms associated with depression.
“Our results support that depression in older adults is common and strongly associated with several risk factors,” noted the study authors. Nevertheless, they emphasised that those who followed the plant-rich diet seemed to experience a lower risk, saying that: “Adherence to a Mediterranean diet may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in older age.”
However, Dr Argyropoulos and colleagues also cautioned that their study was observational and did not seek to prove a cause and effect relationship.
For this reason, they warned that the causality may lie either way: eating a healthful Mediterranean diet may lead to better mental health, however, depression could affect a person’s ability to follow a nutritious diet and lead an overall healthful life.