Middle aged men who eat a lot of junk food are at a higher risk of suffering from depression in old age, a new study has claimed.

On the contrary, having a healthy diet, comprising of fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods help ward off the blues.

Although patients with depression are known to be poor eaters, consuming fewer nutrients, but it was till date unclear if unhealthy diet fuelled depression.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers looked at more than 2,000 middle-aged European men enrolled for the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study.

This study required participants to maintain a daily food intake diary. Participants were followed for 13 years on average.

The gathered dietary information was then compared to depression data culled from the National Hospital Discharge Register.

Researchers found that men who ate a healthy diet comprising of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and liver were less likely to experience depressive episodes. A generous intake of coffee and tea, too, helped reduce the risk of depression.

On the other hand, men who reportedly ate a diet packed with high fats, sausages, manufactured foods, breads and high-sugar sweets were more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

Also, eating an unhealthy diet made them overweight and obese, another risk factor of depression.

Interestingly, the link between healthy diet and reduced depression symptoms was much stronger than the link between unhealthy diet and depression. “The study reinforces the hypothesis a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention,” Nutritionist Anu Ruusunen, from the University of Eastern Finland, said.

However, the link between unhealthy diet and depression became statistically significant if the pattern of unhealthy consumption continued for years, researchers marked. “The longer a person indulged in poor eating habits, the worse their depressive symptoms may become,” they explained.

“The results of this thesis indicate that diet, especially a healthy diet rich in folate, and a dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese, may be protective against depression,” the research published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, European Journal of Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition and Diabetic Medicine read.

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