Certain types of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets May Increase risk of Depression
A new study reported that not all vegan and vegetarian diets are healthy, one consequence of a low-quality plant-based diet could be poorer mental health.
Vegans eating processed foods were found to be more susceptible to depression than peers with diets high in fresh products and increasing the quality of plant based foods may reduce the association.
The authors of this Australian study report the study is the first to highlight an association between a self-report plant-based dietary quality measure and depression in Australian adult vegans and vegetarians.
The study also reported that in Australia individuals may inadvertently be consuming a diet high in processed plant foods consistent with a low diet quality, which is broadly a known risk factor for increased depression
Other studies including a Meta-analysis published in November 2021 included 49,889 participants 8,057 vegetarians and 41,832 non-vegetarian controls found that vegetarians show higher depression scores than non-vegetarians.
The consumption of nutrients such as amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which have protective effects for neurotransmitter regulation of serotonin and dopamine essential for mood, is highest in fish-eating vegetarians but is limited in vegan diets
The good news is that including more fresh fruit and vegetables and other high quality plant based foods may help reduce this association. Other studies have reported that the Mediterranean Diet was found to positively associated with reduced depression.
1. Lee MF, Eather R, Best T, Plant-based dietary quality and depressive symptoms in Australian vegans and vegetarians: a cross-sectional study BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2021
2. Vegetarian diet and depression scores: A meta-analysis, Journal of Affective Disorders Volume 294, 1 November 2021, Pages 813-815
3. Khosravi M, Sotoudeh G, Majdzadeh R, et al. Healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns are related to depression: a case-control study. Psychiatry Investig 2015;12:434–42
4. Majid K, Farideh D, Sasan A. Associations between Western and Mediterranean-type dietary patterns and depression in adults in Shiraz. Int J Epidemiol Res 2016;3:128–37
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