A traditional diet characterized by vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and high-quality meat and fish may help prevent mental illness — specifically, depression and anxiety. Conversely, a Western diet high in refined or processed foods and saturated fats may increase the risk of depression, according to a study in in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
A large, cross-sectional study conducted by investigators at the University of Melbourne in Australia shows that women who regularly consume a so-called traditional diet were more than 30% less likely to have major depression, dysthymia, and anxiety disorders compared with their counterparts who consume a Western diet. In addition, the Western diet was associated with a 50% increased likelihood of depression. "Simply put, if you habitually eat a healthy diet that includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality lean meat, then you may cut your risk of depression and anxiety," principal investigator Felice Jacka, PhD.
But one caveat here, said Dr. Jacka, is high-quality meat, which is difficult to come by in the United States. This is because most of the cattle in North America are raised — from birth to death — in feed lots, where they are fed a corn-based diet. This method of raising cattle may have a "profound impact" on the quality of the meat, said Dr. Jacka. "It increases saturated fat and decreases very important good fatty acids. Whereas in Australia, red meat, such as beef and lamb, comes from pasture-raised animals, so it has a much healthier fatty acid profile," she said. One of the findings that was not published in the article is that people who consumed more beef or lamb within Australia's recommended dietary guidelines (not more than 4 times per week) were less likely to have depression and anxiety. According to Dr. Jacka, recent Australian studies show that a good proportion of individuals' dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids actually comes from red meat. "We've traditionally thought of omega-3s as only coming from fatty fish, but actually good-quality red meat, that is, naturally raised, has very good levels of omega-3 fatty acids, whereas red meat that comes from feedlots tends to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids — a fatty acid profile that is far less healthy and may in fact be associated with more mental health problems," she said.
Steve - what a joy to see the red meat issue in a peer reviewed journal! As we have been saying incessantly, red meat can be healthful! here is proof.