Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions faced by young people, with a recent poll showing that 51% of young Americans say they feel down, depressed, or hopeless. Moreover, a similar percentage of young people with depression don’t seek help for their problem for at least a year. Because treatments for depression can have side effects (including headache, dizziness, and insomnia), health professionals are constantly seeking to discover natural means to help curb this condition. A new study (May 2022) undertaken at the University of Technology, Sydney, has found that young men with a poor diet significantly improve their symptoms when they consume a healthy Mediterranean diet.
The Challenges Faced by Young Men
Stress and depression can be triggered by myriad factors, ranging from one’s family to one’s professional life. Young men are particularly prone to work injuries that can cause depression, PTSD, and other mental issues. As reported by NSC Injury Facts, workers aged 16 to 19 experience higher contact with objects and equipment, a higher rate of illnesses and injuries involving upper and lower extremities, higher fall/slip/trip rates, and more. These injuries have powerful social, emotional, and financial impacts, some of which can be long-term.
Young Men Are Keen to Embrace a Healthier Diet
The researchers stated that they were surprised by the willingness of young male participants in the study to change their diet. A Mediterranean diet is easy to follow, and the males enjoyed the added benefit of guidance from a professional nutritionist. This diet essentially comprises lean meats, fruits and vegetables, pulses, nuts, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. The main focus the males were given was the consumption of whole foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish, olive oil, and raw, unsalted nuts.
The Mind-Gut Connection
The new discovery backs previous bodies of research indicating a powerful link between humans’ gut and mental health. Another groundbreaking study by researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven found, for instance, that many people with depression had low levels of two healthful gut bacteria (coproccocus and dialister). Consuming a Mediterranean diet high in fiber enables the gut to grow a myriad of healthful bacteria, promoting better mental health.
The Mediterranean Diet can also help men fight inflammation (another factor that can cause mental illness). Research conducted at the Boston Children’s Hospital showed that inflammation triggers immune activity, causing immune defense cells to attack the junctions through which neurons communicate with each other. When communication is affected, conditions such as anxiety and depression can arise.
The Mediterranean Diet can help young men reduce symptoms of depression. This diet is easy to follow, as it is centered on the consumption of whole foods. Young men with depression should see a health professional and consider discussing their condition with a clinical dietitian or nutritionist. These professionals can help design an easy, practical, affordable eating plan that can significantly impact their client’s mental health.
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