Indeed, its a provocative title. After reading the article, below, I would like to know your thoughts. Particularly in regard to the nexis of of diet, mental health, happiness, and bhavana (mental cultivation).
Eat your way to happiness
March 24, 2011 - 11:22AM
You are what you eat ... and it affects how you feel as well, study finds.
We are what we eat, they say - and according to the experts, how we feel is what we eat, too.
When we fill our system with the wrong foods - things we love and crave like refined sugars - it inflames our body and assaults our immune system, affecting our hormones and leaving us vulnerable to common and disabling illnesses such as depression.
It's enough to make you grab a slab of chocolate.
Advertisement: Story continues below Chronic bad eating is something you have to kick if you want good mental health.
A recent Australian study is the first in the world to show an association between diet quality and the likelihood of having clinical depression or an anxiety disorder.
Carried out by Deakin University research fellow Dr Felice Jacka, the study tested more than 1000 women from a cross-section of Australian society and found the women who followed the national dietary guidelines were less likely to have depression or anxiety.
"And conversely, women who mostly ate junk and processed foods were more likely to have depression and exhibit increased psychological symptoms," Dr Jacka explains.
The relationship between diet quality and mental health existed over and above the women's socio-economic status, education, how much they exercised, whether they smoked or their physical illnesses, such as obesity.
The importance of the study's findings is in providing an opportunity to prevent depression before it starts, says Dr Jacka.
But can a better diet actually improve bad mental health? The science is out on that one.
"That's the $64 million question," says Dr Jacka.
"No one has tested that hypothesis anywhere in the world, but we are seeking research funding to address that question."
At a time when depression is set to become the second most common cause of disability by 2020 after cardiovascular disease, according to the World Health Organisation, the time to act to prevent depression is now.
Sydney naturopath Karen Morris believes that diet can help ease the symptoms of depression, but not on its own. She recommends we eat five small meals a day made up of the following food groups, which also match the national dietary guidelines.
A MENTALLY HEALTHY DIET
LEAN PROTEIN - fish, chicken, red meat, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds.
DAIRY - yoghurt, milk and cheese, low-fat preferred such as feta or skim-milk cheeses.
VEGETABLES - particularly greens.
FRUIT - "Fruit is great as it's high in fibre and anti-oxidants," says Morris, but she advises to limit fruit intake to two per day as too much of the fruit sugar fructose can push up your blood sugar levels, before they drop you down and give you the blues.
COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES - wholegrains, such as oats, brown rice and wholegrain cereals, with a low glycemic index (GI), release insulin slowly, allowing them to break down slowly without a spike in blood sugar levels, explains Morris. "Stable blood sugar levels help stabilise hormone levels."
Although there are different views on the value of supplements, Omega-3, zinc magnesium and folates, also provided through a healthy diet, are sometimes recommended to boost the immune system.
SATURATED FATS - this means animal fat, butter, wholemilk, cream.
REFINED SUGARS - these include most white foods such as white breads, pasta, white sugar and pretty well covers the foods that give our lives a big fat hit - chocolates, soft drinks, biscuits, pizza, pies, ice cream, cakes and lollies.
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