European Lifestyle May Reduce Depression Risk

We have already heard from fitness experts and sources that Mediterranean diet (a.k.a veggies, fruits, whole-wheat pasta, chicken, fish diet) is known to bring great health benefits. But a study conducted in Spain takes its known advantages up a notch. The findings suggest that correspondents with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, specifically obeying the way of living of people from countries like Italy, France, Greece and Spain lowered their risk of getting depression to 50% compared to those with lowest adherence. In short, Mediterranean lifestyle may also bring psychological benefits.

This Mediterranean lifestyle is composed of three (3) parts: Exposure to the well-known diet, physical activity and time spent with friends/family (socialization). Researchers ran and followed up the study for more than eight (8) years by the help of almost 12,000 university graduates. It turned out those participants who combined the three essential components had lower depression risks.

Although previous researches have shown the relationship of healthy diet and risk depressions, this recent study is the first to delve deeper on the association of overall, specifically Mediterranean lifestyle and depression itself. Researchers did not draw conclusion on the exact reasons why a balanced combination of physical activity, socializing and eating healthy diet is related to lower depression risk but according to Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, the lead study author and professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, certain ingredients in the Mediterranean diet such as fruit, olive oil and legumes have anti-inflammatory components which may be of use in inflammation prevention—which has been linked to depression in the past.

Exercising or physical activities have been previously linked by experts to help reduce anxiety and depression because during workout, our bodies release feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Lastly, social interactions according to the study researchers comes with better psychological health—suggested mechanisms such as having social support during hard times may backup this correlation.

For Asians, a Mediterranean diet may not be widely practiced but for beginners, a Mediterranean-Asian meal plan would be a good starting point. According to an article contributed by Brittany, a healthy living blogger on skinnyfitalicious.com, Mediterranean and Asian foods are rich in taste and normally provide nutrients the body needs. Ingredients from both cultures can be infused to one healthy and tasty recipe for example, combination of fish and rice, olive oil and veggies etc.

Recipe books featuring Mediterranean pyramid and 100 recipes from 25 European countries are available online like the ones found in Kinokuniya Singapore. Either diet can be unhealthy (for example, fusion of tempura fish or vodka) but what matters is the principle of these diets that drive the real benefits, one of which is to take a minute to savor and enjoy the tasteful flavors because the value it bring is not only within the confines of nutrition but also for the mind as well.

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