Healthy Diet Not Cure-All For Depression

Dr. Mila Kingsbury PhD Senior Research Associate at Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine University of Ottawa Interview with:

Dr. Mila Kingsbury PhD
Senior Research Associate at Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine
University of Ottawa


Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Kingsbury: Eating a healthy diet, including enough fruits and vegetables, is good for physical health, and some evidence suggests that it may be good for mental health, too. Specifically, intake of fruits and vegetables has been associated with lower risk of depression.

However, there are very few longitudinal studies on this topic. Most studies haven’t accounted for the effects of other related lifestyle factors such as smoking and exercise, nor for the fact that the links between lifestyle and mental health are bidirectional (i.e., depression can also hinder our ability to engage in healthy behaviours).

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Kingsbury: While we found an association between fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress and depression two years later, depression and distress also predicted future fruit and vegetable consumption. Importantly, these associations became non-significant when we controlled for lifestyle factors like smoking and exercise.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Kingsbury: Although eating a healthy diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables, certainly has many health benefits, diet may not be a ‘cure-all’ for mental health problems such as depression and psychological distress. Instead, diet is likely one component of a healthy lifestyle involving many behaviors which contribute to mental health.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Kingsbury: Our findings highlight the need for randomized control trials to clarify whether there are causal links between fruit and vegetable consumption and mental health.


Associations between fruit and vegetable consumption and depressive symptoms: evidence from a national Canadian longitudinal survey

Mila Kingsbury, Gabrielle Dupuis, Felice Jacka, Marie-Hélène Roy-Gagnon,
Seanna E McMartin, Ian Colman

J Epidemiol Community Health jech-2015-205858Published Online First: 26 August 2015doi:10.1136/jech-2015-205858

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Dr. Mila Kingsbury PhD (2015). Healthy Diet Not Cure-All For Depression 

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