Anxiety disorders (AD) can be crippling, affecting every aspect of a person’s life.
But what if the food we eat could impact our odds of suffering from these disorders, or even the severity of them? Could a dietary intervention help people living with anxiety disorders?
One diet that has been catching the attention of researchers is the Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or the MIND diet.
But the association between the MIND diet, and the odds and severity of anxiety disorders is still unclear. This study aimed to investigate that association.
Method: How We Conducted the Study
The researchers carried out a case-control study with 85 patients who had anxiety disorders. They also included 170 healthy subjects who were matched with the patients by gender.
This means they had two groups to compare – one group with anxiety disorders and one without.
The team collected data on what our participants ate using a validated food frequency questionnaire with 147 items. They also took some standard measurements of their bodies, like their height and weight.
From the dietary data, they calculated a MIND diet score for each participant. This score reflects how closely each person’s diet aligns with the MIND diet.
To assess the severity of anxiety disorders among the patients, the team used a questionnaire called the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7).
They then used statistical methods to investigate the association between the MIND diet score and anxiety disorders.
Results: What Researchers Found
The results showed that a higher adherence to the MIND diet – that is, a higher MIND diet score – was linked to a lower GAD-7 score (p < 0.001).
This suggests that people who ate a diet more aligned with the MIND diet had less severe anxiety disorders.
The team also found that individuals with the highest MIND diet scores were 97% less likely to have an anxiety disorder compared to those with the lowest scores.
Additionally, there was a significant reverse linear association between MIND diet score and anxiety disorders, meaning as the MIND diet score increased, the likelihood of having an anxiety disorder decreased.
Conclusion: What Does This Mean?
This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that diet can play a role in mental health. They found a negative association between adherence to the MIND diet, and the odds and severity of anxiety disorders.
In other words, it seems that sticking to the MIND diet could reduce both the likelihood and severity of these disorders.
However, the team needs to be cautious about drawing definitive conclusions from this single study. As with all scientific research, more studies are needed to confirm the findings.
They particularly need large-scale prospective cohort studies, which follow large groups of people over time, to further investigate the link between diet and anxiety disorders.
But for now, these findings suggest that paying attention to diet could be one part of a comprehensive approach to managing and preventing anxiety disorders.
The research was published in BMC Psychiatry.
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