NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — We all know the importance of eating right, but now there’s scientific proof that diet can be just as good as medication when it comes to treating moderate to severe depression.
William Jiang says he likes oatmeal in the morning, and not just for the taste. It’s part of a diet that’s helping to treat his depression.
“It changed my life dramatically,” Jiang told CBS2.
For the first time, two new clinical trials conducted in Australia have proven when people with severe depression follow a more traditional diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, they will experience a significant reduction in symptoms.
“Both trials were really excellent studies,” Psychiatrist Dr. Drew Ramsey said. “They were large, they followed patients over a number of months. They really detailed their statistical methodology.”
The Mediterranean diet is rich in plant-based foods, healthy fats such as olive oil, whole grains, and even the occasional glass of red wine.
“It’s very exciting to think about how we can use this data to shift public policy,” Dr. Ramsey said.
Ramsey, who’s written several books on how food affects mood and even prescribes certain foods like kale and lentils to his patients, says maybe it’s time the Food and Drug Administration considers recognizing and approving certain diets as treatment for depression.
“We know in America we have to help improve the way we eat, there is nothing more compelling than our mental health,” he said.
Dr. Jacqueline Brunetti with Holy Name Medical Center says the trials provide stronger proof of a gut-to-brain connection.
“Those two trials I think are very timely,” she said. “Diet affects the way we think and the way we feel.”
By cutting out fast and highly processed foods and eating a diet rich with fish, fruit, and vegetables, Jiang says he no longer needs to take anti-depressants. It’s a journey he’s chronicled in more than 60 books he’s authored.
“A healthy mind, and healthy body,” he said. “It’s ancient wisdom, but it holds true today.”
No one is advocating that people stop taking their antidepressants. Dietary changes are meant to be in addition to traditional treatments and under the supervision of a physician.
For a link to an e-course on eating to help beat depression, CLICK HERE.