Mediterranean Diet: Can It Help Boost Your Mental Health?

Mediterranean Diet: This classic anti-inflammatory diet can improve overall health, including mental health.

3 min read
Hindi Female

Which region has one of the highest concentration of centenarians? Mediterranean region is the correct answer, and its diet has a lot to do with this.

Now it is well known that this diet that originated from Greece and Spain is a painless way to lower cholesterol, lose weight, live longer, free from diseases, ensure stronger bones and healthier hearts, and most importantly boost our immunity to keep the reruns of viral fevers away.

This diet is also associated with longer telomeres (the protective structures at the end of chromosomes) which indicate lower risk of chronic diseases and longer life expectancy. But you probably already know all this.

Now a new study published in the American journal of clinical nutrition shows that it can help our mental health immensely too.

This study showed that a Mediterranean diet can improve depressive symptoms in young males with clinical depression, and thereby could be beneficial in treating depression.

For the study, researchers studied 72 men between 18- and 25-years-old with moderate to severe depression for 12 weeks where the control group continued with hair regular diet and the rest were put on the Mediterranean diet where eggs, chicken, red meat, and fast foods were replaced with vegetables, legumes, fish, olive oil, and raw nuts.

After 12 weeks, depression symptoms decreased in all men on the Mediterranean diet, with 36 percent of the group reporting low or minimal depression at the study’s end.

Whereas none of the participants in the control group reported low or minimal depression after the 12-week study period.

This study makes it clear that while other interventions are on, an actionable, intentional change in the diet can definitely help people battling with depression. Earlier too studies have shown a positive correlation between diet and mood.

Go MD for good MOOD

Mediterranean Diet: This classic anti-inflammatory diet can improve overall health, including mental health.

The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research has recommended dietary components as promising modifiable targets for the prevention and treatment of common mental disorders.

(Photo: iStock)

This seems clear. Firstly, this diet works because it includes a lot of anti-inflammatory foods and depression is often caused due to (and also leads to) inflammation of the immune system.

Secondly there seems to be a direct connect between our gut health and depression (higher levels of certain gut bacteria such as morganella have been linked to depression).


This diet impacts the gut-microbiome, which is responsible for making more than 90 percent of the body’s serotonin, which is directly responsible for good mood. That is why eating a diet that is good for the gut (like Mediterranean) works wonders.

These same two principles work for the Japanese way of eating too, and for that matter are also the backbone of the traditional Indian way of eating which propagates high fibre, regional, fresh food.

5 Simple MD Diet Rules To Follow for Better Mental Health

Stick To Fruits

Lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes such as beans and peas, as well as significant amounts of nuts, unrefined whole-grain foods and olive oil; moderate amounts of fish; a low to moderate amount of dairy products such as cheese (especially fresh cheeses) and yoghurt; and a moderate measure of wine, usually taken with meals.

Herbs and spices such as garlic, oregano, bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves are used liberally.

Eat Fresh

Combine naturally grown seasonal foods with the flavoursome and healing herbs and spices to create simple yet fabulous dishes.

Switch the Meats

Opt for more seafood instead of red meats and eat small portions.

Cook More

Eat home cooked meals as often as possible (all the time if possible). Don’t overcook food. Instead of frying, lightly sauté foods with a bit of oil and lots of fresh herbs.

Focus on food

Learn to love the food, eat without distractions and eat together with family in a conducive environment.

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