Newsletter Article

Fight Depression with Activity & Nutrition

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. More than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, with women affected more often than men. Depression is not completely understood, and unlike many other diseases, it does not have a clear cause. However despite the mystery surrounding this often debilitating disease, research has shown that physical activity and a healthy diet may help reduce the occurrence and severity of depressive symptoms.

A recent review of physical activity data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort found that adolescents who were more active had reduced odds of depressive symptoms. It appeared that total amount of physical activity was a greater factor than the intensity of the exercise. Another study by Teychenne et al surveyed 1500 women and found that those who participated in at least 1.5 hours of moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) per week were 33% less likely to report depressive symptoms. Women who participated in 1.75 hours of vigorous-intensity LTPA were 40% less likely to report depressive symptoms. Although 1.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity would not meet the current public health dose, it still showed a beneficial effect on mood. According to this study, even low levels of physical activity reduced the odds of depression.

Research has shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may also have a positive influence our emotional well-being. In one study, participants aged 60 years or older were categorized as depressed or not depressed. Those who were depressed had a significantly lower intake of several important antioxidants, including vitamin C, lutein, and beta cryptoxanthin. Those who were depressed also showed a significantly lower intake of fruits and vegetables; foods that are rich in antioxidants.