Healthy food is key to a healthy mind

October 9, 2017, Swinburne University of Technology
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The risk of developing depression is directly linked to diet, lifestyle and exercise, a ground-breaking index developed by Swinburne researchers has found.

The Risk Index for Depression (RID) developed by Swinburne lecturer Dr Joanna Dipnall, reveals that an individual is more likely to become depressed if their diet is poor, their is erratic and they do not .

Dr Dipnall, who lectures in the Department of Statistics Data Science and Epidemiology, says she developed the RID to help identify the most common risk factors for depression and to give professionals an early intervention tool.

"The RID is about prevention," she says.

"It aims to identify individuals with a predisposition to depression as well as which is the key determinant that would reduce this risk."

Dr Dipnall says the RID is the first of its kind and will help clinicians and sufferers to identify the early signs of depression.

The research found that the risk of depression is most closely linked to our diet, followed by physiological factors and then lifestyle patterns such as sleep and exercise.

Dr Dipnall says that a fibre rich diet is the key to a healthy mind.

"A diet comprised of fibre-rich foods such as leafy green salads, vegetables and whole grains has been consistently associated with a reduced risk for depression," she explains.

"At the same time, an unhealthy diet high in processed foods and high fat dairy has previously been found to be associated with increased odds for depression."

And she says the same is true for the opposite.

"Lifestyle factors such as problems sleeping, snacking behaviour and exercise activity have all been found to be associated with individuals' mental health," she says

While diet has long been associated with mental health, Dr Dipnall believes more research is being conducted on the role that the gut plays in .

"Dietary fibre appears central to gut health, which has recently been a key focus of depression research," she says.

"Our findings provide further support for as a key modifiable factor in gut health, and in depression ."

Dr Dipnall says future research is being planned to build on the current RID model. Dr Dipnall's PhD was awarded by Deakin University with a supervision collaboration between Swinburne and Deakin universities.

If you are experiencing or anxiety, support is available by calling beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Explore further: Vegetarians more susceptible to depression than meat eaters, study shows. Here's why.

Related Stories

Vegetarians more susceptible to depression than meat eaters, study shows. Here's why.

September 11, 2017
Vegetarians are at higher risk of suffering depression compared to those who eat meat and consume a conventional balanced diet, according to a new study.

Healthy lifestyle linked to lower pain in multiple sclerosis sufferers

October 2, 2017
A healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, no smoking and healthy diet is associated with lower pain in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), finds a study published in open-access journal Frontiers in Neurology. The findings ...

No, depression won't literally break your heart (but have a heart check anyway)

September 25, 2017
Some people say depression leads to a broken heart. It's a catchy expression, but is it really true?

Study suggests an answer to young people's persistent sleep problems

September 28, 2017
A collaborative research project involving James Cook University and the University of Queensland indicates high rates of sleep problems continuing through teenage years and into early adulthood - but also suggests a natural ...

Diet is associated with the risk of depression

September 16, 2013
A healthy diet may reduce the risk of severe depression, according to a prospective follow-up study of more than 2,000 men conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition, weight loss in the context of a lifestyle ...

Fruit and vegetables aren't only good for a healthy body—they protect your mind too

September 16, 2015
Eating a Mediterranean diet or other healthy dietary pattern, comprising of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats, is associated with preventing the onset of depression, according to research published ...

Recommended for you

New approaches in neuroscience show it's not all in your head

February 16, 2018
Our own unique experiences shape how we view the world and respond to the events in our lives. But experience is highly subjective. What's distressing or joyful to one person may be very different to another.

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study

February 16, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, ...

People find comfort listening to the same songs over and over, study finds

February 16, 2018
With the frequency that some people play their favorite song, it's a good thing vinyl records aren't used often because they might wear out.

Ketamine found to reduce bursting in brain area reducing depression quickly

February 15, 2018
A team of researchers at Zhejiang University in China has found that the drug ketamine reduces neuronal bursting in the lateral habenula (LHb) brain region, reducing symptoms of depression in rodent models. In their paper ...

What predicts the quality of children's friendships? Study shows cognition, emotion together play

February 15, 2018
Whether children think their peers' intentions are benign or hostile, and how those children experience and express their own emotions, may influence the quality of their friendships, according to a new study from the University ...

Evidence shows pets can help people with mental health problems

February 15, 2018
The study of 17 research papers by academics at the Universities of Manchester, Southampton and Liverpool, concludes that pets can help people manage their long-term mental health conditions.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.