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

Study shows how bias can influence people estimating the ages of other people

October 17, 2018
A trio of researchers from the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University has discovered some of the factors involved when people make errors in estimating the ages of other people. In their paper published ...

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer

October 16, 2018
Infants are more likely to learn from on-screen instruction when paired with another infant as opposed to viewing the lesson alone, according to a new study.

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows

October 16, 2018
Australians who have higher incomes and greater wealth are more likely to experience better mental health throughout their lives, new research led by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has found.

Linguistic red flags from Facebook posts can predict future depression diagnoses

October 15, 2018
In any given year, depression affects more than 6 percent of the adult population in the United States—some 16 million people—but fewer than half receive the treatment they need. What if an algorithm could scan social ...

Early changes to synapse gene regulation may cause Alzheimer's disease

October 15, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, involving memory loss and a reduction in cognitive abilities. Patients with AD develop multiple abnormal protein structures in their brains that are thought to ...

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.