New research - diet improves depression - Specialist Nutrition Rehab


28 Feb 2019

New research – diet improves depression

Link Found Between Food Choices & Depression


A new meta-analysis of randomised control trials entitled, “The effects of dietary improvement on symptoms of depression and anxiety“(1) was released in February 2019 (ahead of print).  After reviewing 16 randomised control trials and compiling data from over 45 000 people, the conclusion is that dietary interventions provided by a dietitian (or professional nutritionist) have been show to significantly reduce symptoms of non-clinical depression in females.  Males, unfortunately, did not show any improvement and programs delivered without a dietitian were not found to be effective. Preliminary research on dietary changes in clients with clinical depression has come to the same conclusion – that dietary intervention has been shown to greatly reduce depressive symptoms after 12 weeks.2  There was no significant effect found between diet and anxiety levels.

So what type of dietary changes are needed?

In all cases, the focus is to get clients eating a more “Mediterranean-style” diet, which includes high intakes of vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, legumes and olive oil, and eating fewer processed foods and take-aways.  The exact mechanism for how diet affects mood has yet to be determined, but the most probable explanations are that diet affects oxidative stress, inflammation, the gut microbiome and/or mitochondrial function. These dietary changes were achieved through a combination of one-to-one sessions with a dietitian, food hampers (which included many of the desired ingredients), recipes and meal plans.2  Other studies have implemented the changes using dietitian-led group education sessions and cooking workshops, in addition to recipes and food hampers with the desired ingredients.3  The idea of food hampers sounds remarkably similar to the recipe delivery box idea featured in last month’s newsletter.  Click HERE to read more about that.

How does this relate to catastrophic injuries?

While the above studies didn’t look specifically at individuals after a catastrophic injury, we know that 61% of people with a traumatic brain injury will experience depression within the first seven years after the event.4  This depression has also been found to slow their recovery.4  Anything that may benefit this (and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease at the same time) is certainly worth considering, especially when it can be offered in addition to the other approaches (eg. therapy; medication; exercise) currently used to manage depression.


If you would like a nutrition assessment or intervention for a client experiencing depression after a catastrophic injury, please contact Specialist Nutrition Rehab at 0121 384 7087 or

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Specialist Nutrition Rehab
West Midlands
B24 0PL


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0121 384 7087

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