(Natural News) Depression is common in older adults, and even more so in people who have memory problems, vascular conditions – such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol – or people who previously have had a stroke. Earlier scientific literature, however, has shown that healthy lifestyle changes are associated with lower depression rates. A study led by researchers from the Rush University Medical Center looked at this claim and found that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains played a role in depression prevention.
The research team examined more than 900 individuals for the study. The participants, who had an average age of 81 years, were from an observational prospective cohort study and were studied annually by the researchers from about six and a half years. The team monitored the participants for symptoms of depression and asked them to accomplish questionnaires on how frequently they ate various foods. They then benchmarked these foods to various diet types. One of the these was the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) – which recommends fruits and vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy products and restricts foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats and sugar. Also included were the Mediterranean diet, which includes high consumption of vegetables and olive oil and moderate consumption of protein, and the traditional Western diet, which involves consumption of foods high in saturated fats and red meats and low intake of fruits and vegetables. After that, they divided the participants into three groups, according to how strictly they adhered to these diets.
Results revealed that the participants who were in the two groups that closely followed the DASH diet had an 11 percent decrease in the risk of developing depression than those who did not adhere to it. Conversely, those whose diets closely resembled a Western diet also increased their risk of developing depression.
In conclusion, the findings of the study suggested that following a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains may reduce the risk of depression, while following a diet high in saturated fats and red meats may increase its risk. (Related: Eating for your MIND: Scientists combine the Mediterranean and DASH diets to prevent cognitive decline)
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Aging and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles from April 21 to 27, 2018.
DASH diet may reduce the risk of stroke
A stroke happens when there is a reduction or interruption of blood supply to a part of the brain, which deprives brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. After a few minutes, cells in the brain start to die. Fortunately, a stroke can be treated and prevented. One way of reducing the risk of having a stroke is adhering to a healthy diet.
A 2016 study published in the journal Stroke suggested that closely following the DASH diet can reduce a person’s odds of having a stroke. In the study, the researchers used data from diet questionnaires from more than 74,400 people who were from 45 to 84 years old. They created scores based on how closely the participants followed the DASH diet that has been shown to lower blood pressure, which is one of the most common risk factors for stroke.
After an average of approximately 12 years of follow-up, researchers found that individuals who adhered to the DASH diet had a reduced risk of ischemic stroke, a condition where a blood clot blocks an artery vessel that supplies blood to the brain. Moreover, the DASH diet may help prevent stroke by reducing the likelihood of fatty plaque inside the arteries, since the diet increases antioxidant levels from plant-based foods and limits saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
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