How vegan, vegetarian, and meat-based diets affect your depression risk

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Scientists from Bond University and elsewhere found that eating a healthy diet may help reduce depression risk, protecting mental health.

Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world.

While there are many factors that can contribute to depression, including genetics and life experiences, research has shown that diet may also play a role.

Specifically, studies have found that people who eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are less likely to experience depressive symptoms than those who eat a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats.

However, most research in this area has focused on overall diet quality and depressive symptoms, rather than specific dietary patterns.

To address this gap in knowledge, a group of researchers conducted a study to explore the relationship between diet quality and depressive symptoms across different dietary patterns, including meat-based, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

To conduct the study, the researchers tested 496 adults through an online survey. Of these people, 129 identified as omnivores, 151 as vegetarians, and 216 as vegans.

The participants completed two questionnaires: the Dietary Screening Tool (DST), which measures diet quality, and the Centre for Epidemiological Studies of Depression Scale (CESD-20), which measures depressive symptoms.

The team found that diet quality was very different between the groups, with the highest quality diets reported by the vegan sample, followed by the vegetarian and omnivore patterns.

Additionally, they found a strong moderately negative link between higher diet quality and lower depressive symptoms across all three diets.

The team further found that diet quality accounted for 13% of the variability in depressive symptoms for the omnivore sample, 6% for vegetarians, and 8% for vegans.

These findings suggest that diet quality in both meat-based and plant-based diets could be a modifiable lifestyle factor with the potential to reduce the risk of depressive symptoms.

While this study provides valuable insights into the link between diet quality and depressive symptoms across different diets, it is important to note that it is a cross-sectional study, meaning that it only provides a snapshot of the participants’ lives at one point in time.

The team says further research is needed to explore the bi-directional link between diet quality and depressive symptoms over time.

Overall, this study adds to the growing body of research suggesting that a healthy diet is an important way to promote mental health and well-being.

By making dietary changes to improve the quality of their diets, individuals may be able to reduce their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

The research was published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and was conducted by Hayley Walsh et al.

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