Can Eating Fish Help With Depression?
Food affects your brain.
I’m a little astounded by the research that continues to come out. There’s more and more science is discovering about how diet affects our brain and behavior. It’s one of the reasons why diet is a pillar of brain health.
So if you want a healthy brain, your food should be one of the main factors you prioritize if you want your mental abilities to run into those golden years.
A review of research literature has recently taken a look at how our moods might be affected by food. They found that there may just be a link between depression and how much fish we put on the table.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, poured over previous research to find articles with reliable data.
Looking back as far as 2001, they found 16 articles. These articles contained over 26 different studies and included over 150,000 participants. Which is plenty enough to start looking for any association between fish consumption and health.
The studies came from several different countries. Including Europe, North America, Asia, and South America. The articles also consisted of two different types of study methods. Cohort and cross sectional type studies.
Cohort studies typically follow large populations over time and track health patterns and conditions. Cross sectional studies look for associations between a condition and other health variables at a certain point in time.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found an interesting finding with diets and fish. The diets which consumed the most fish had a 17% reduction in depression over diets which contained the least amount of fish.
There was one caveat, however. This association was only found in the European studies. This association was only found in the European studies.
What’s the Cause?
So what actually is driving this phenomenon?
The researchers believed that it may be the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish that could be the cause.
Some scientists have found that omega 3 can actually reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age. Researchers are still debating that point, but for depression the theory is a bit different.
They think the omega 3 might alter the the structure of brain membranes and change the activity of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Both which may have a role to play in depression.
Also, fish contain high amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. This could also play a large role that protects against depression.
Always Use Caution
While large reviews like this are generally more reliable, I usually warn readers that results should always be taken with a grain of salt. The literature used in the reviews were based on observational studies.
They are a good first start in noticing a pattern, but does not prove that eating fish causes a reduction in depression. It could very well be that people who tend to eat more fish just generally eat healthier in general. Also, the fact that the European studies noticed this association while others did not is a bit curious.
Having said that, another recent study has reported similar findings. While they didn’t link particular dietary choices, they did compare 3 separate diets. When they studied thousands of people over 10 years they found that all 3 diets helped reduce rates of depression. As long as they followed them to a moderate degree.