The Mediterranean Diet Helps Overcome Depression in Young Men

Summary: The transition to a Mediterranean diet significantly improved the symptoms of depression in young men, according to a new study.

A source: University of Sydney

A new study found that malnourished young men significantly improved their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects approximately 1 million Australians each year. This is a serious risk factor for suicide, the leading cause of youth death.

A 12-week randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers at Sydney University of Technology was recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Lead researcher Jessica Beyes, PhD candidate at UTS Health, said the study was the first randomized clinical trial to assess the effects of a Mediterranean diet on depressive symptoms in young men (18-25 years old).

“We were surprised that young people were ready to follow the new diet,” Bayes said. “Those who were assigned to the Mediterranean diet were able to significantly change their original diet in a short period of time under the guidance of a nutritionist.”

“These medical doctors and psychologists recommend that young people with depression see a dietitian or nutritionist as an important component of treating clinical depression,” he said.

The diet used in the study was rich in colored vegetables, greens and whole grains, oily fish, olive oil and raw, unsalted nuts. Image in public domain

The study contributes to the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry, which focuses on the effects of certain foods, diets and dietary patterns on mental health. The diet used in the study was rich in colored vegetables, greens and whole grains, oily fish, olive oil and raw, unsalted nuts.

“The focus is on improving the quality of the diet with new foods, while reducing‘ fast food, sugar and processed red meat, ’” Bayes said.

“There are many reasons why we think that food affects our mood. For example, about 90 percent of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel happy, is produced in our gut by microbes in the gut. There is evidence that these microbes can communicate to the brain through the vagus nerve, known as the intestinal-cerebral axis.

“In order to have beneficial microbes, we need to feed them the fiber found in vegetables, fruits and vegetables,” he said.

Approximately 30 percent of depressed patients are unable to adequately respond to standard treatments for major depressive disorders, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications.

“Almost all of our participants remained in the program, and after the study was completed, most wanted to continue the diet, which shows how effective, patient, and valuable the intervention is.”

It’s about diet and depression research news

Author: Leila Schubert
A source: University of Sydney
The connection: Leila Schubert – University of Sydney
Photo: Image in public domain

Original study: Closed access.
“Effects of Mediterranean Diet on Symptoms of Depression in Young Men” (AMMEND study): Randomized Control Trial by Jessica Bayes et al. American Journal of ClinicalNutrition


Effects of Mediterranean Diet on Depression Symptoms in Young Men (AMMEND Study): Randomized Control Trial


Depression is a general mental health condition that affects 1 in 8 men each year, especially young people. While it suggests the possibility of early dietary intervention in adolescence, studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet (MD) may be helpful in treating depression.

The goal

This study aimed to determine whether MD could improve depressive symptoms in young men with clinical depression.

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A 12-week, parallel group, open-ended, randomized controlled trial was conducted to assess the impact of MD intervention in the treatment of moderate and severe depression in young men (18–25 years). Friendly therapy was selected for the control group. Assessments were made at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. MD adherence was measured by the Mediterranean adherence score (MEDAS). The main outcome measure was the Beck Depression Inventory Scale (BDI-II) and the second outcome was Quality of Life (QoL).


A total of 72 participants completed the study. After 12 weeks, MEDAS scores were significantly higher in the MD group compared to the friendship group (mean difference: 7.8, 95% CI: 7.23, 8.37, p <0.001). The mean change in BDI-II score was significantly higher in the MD group compared to the 12-week friendship group (mean difference: 14.4, 95% CI: 11.41, 17.39, p <0.001). The mean change in QoL score was significantly higher in the MD group than in the 12-week friend group (mean difference: 12.7, 95% CI: 7.92, 17.48), p <0.001).


Our results show that, compared to friendships, MD intervention leads to a significant increase in MEDAS scores, a decrease in BDI-II scores, and an increase in QoL scores. These findings highlight the important role of nutrition in the treatment of depression and should reflect the advice that clinicians provide to a specific demographic population.

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