Eating fruits and veggies can prevent depression?
By Debarati Choudhury and Sukant Khurana
Most of the data for the following article has been taken from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0186379&type=printable. Other sources have been acknowlegded throughout the article.
The objective of the study was to assess the relationship between the consumption of fruits and/ vegetables and prominence of depressive symptoms.
The strategy of the survey comprised of multistage sampling. In the rural areas, sampling components were villages of 50–2000 people and the individual households in each of these villages. In urban areas, sampling components contained groups of blocks with at least 2000 people, and an average of 100 houses. Data from 25,848 participants were evaluated and there was a clear increasing trend in the prevalence of depressive symptoms according to the consumption of fruits, consumption of vegetables, and the combined consumption of fruits and vegetables. This finding is relevant because a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with several potential benefits in health, including better mental health, but also reduction in the risk of mortality for other non-communicable disease such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, in later stages of life (38–40 years). Less than 5% of participants consumed the WHO recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables (=5 servings per day).
Though this particular study was done in Peru, India also a produces a diversity of fruits and vegetables which are very easily accessible, and there is a basic necessity to implement suitable tactics that would guarantee a diet of quality. This consumption of fruits and vegetables at the population level should be initiated right from childhood. As these food sets are vital for appropriate child growth, their intake from an early age would ensure their consumption in the long term as well. Given the nutritional and epidemiological evolution that several low- and middle-income countries, including India and Peru, are experiencing, this kind of enterprise is highly essential.
Following are a couple of tips to incorporate fruits and vegetables in your daily diet (data from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/eating-fruit-can-prevent-depression):
· Add bananas to oatmeals, apples into pancake mix, or strawberries to yoghurt
· Make a glass of fruit smoothie, or fresh citrus juice
· Consume every possible seasonal fruits, like mangoes in summer and oranges in winter
· Add fresh fruits to your salad- avocados, grapes, corn or pomegranates
· Get a classic Indian salad with cucumber, carrots, onions and/or beetroot
· Incorporate lots of green veggies in your meal, cooked or fresh
· Experiment with new continental dishes that involve fruits- apple corn chilli, spinach/asparagus chicken, mixed green with white beans (or rajma), baked fish with broccoli
· A salad, as mentioned under lunch
· Mix your favourite fruit juice with berries
· Dip bananas or strawberries in yoghurt and freeze
· Pineapple with stir fried or toasted coconut crumbs
· A platter of dry fruits- raisins, peanuts, cashews
· Combine your granola with red or blue berries
So not just an apple, but a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, definitely keeps mental illness away!
Debarati Choudhury is a student who worked extensively as a researcher with Dr. Khurana’s group on mental health awareness and evaluated seminal work in the field to help laypeople understand the scientific literature on depression.
Dr. Sukant Khurana runs an academic research lab and several tech companies. He is also a known artist, author, and speaker. You can learn more about Sukant at www.brainnart.com or www.dataisnotjustdata.com and if you wish to work on biomedical research, neuroscience, sustainable development, artificial intelligence or data science projects for public good, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by reaching out to him on linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/sukant-khurana-755a2343/.
Here are two small documentaries on Sukant and a TEDx video on his citizen science effort.