“Macho” Food and Mental Health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Food marketing to males can sometimes include “macho food” (1) messaging associated with foods high in calories, sodium, fats, processed grain, and sugar.  This can sometimes also include alcohol and nicotine products.  This is significant because food can play an important role in depression, which is a leading cause of suicide (2).

Previous research has looked at nutrition and depression among adults of various ages (3).

A recent study looked at nutrition and depression among college aged students (4).

What was the study?

Francis and colleagues studied 100 young adults (aged 17 to 35) with moderate-to-severe depression symptoms and poor diet were randomized to a dietary intervention or their usual diet (4).

What was the intervention? (4)

Intervention group were instructed to reduce their intake of processed foods and increase their intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, unsweetened dairy, olive oil, turmeric, and cinnamon (4).

What were the results?

– At 21 days, the intervention group had lower depression, anxiety, and stress scores (DASS) scores than the control group after controlling for baseline scores (4).

What are some caveats?

  • This is a small study that builds on previous studies on nutrition for depression (3).
  • According to these studies, foods that improved depression were NOT necessarily certain foods that are sometimes marketed as “macho” foods (1).
  • This is important because males account for about 75% of suicides in the United States (2), with depression being the leading cause of suicide.

According to the Center for Disease control, other health disparities experienced by men include (5):

  • Suicide (mentioned above)
  • Homicide
  • Binge drinking
  • Shorter lifespan
  • High blood pressure
  • Death by motor vehicle accidents

What is being done to address some of this?

Additional resources for depression:

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

 

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

 

References:

  1. http://nymag.com/betamale/2016/06/macho-food-marketing-is-killing-men.html
  2. https://us.movember.com/about/mental-health
  3. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/category/nutrition-depression/
  4. Francis HM, Stevenson RJ, Chambers JR, Gupta D, Newey B, Lim CK (2019) A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0222768. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222768

 

Food choices to improve depression

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

A 2017 systematic review of 21 studies  across 10 countries looking at food pattern and depression found that there was an association between food pattern and depression (1).

What food patterns were found to have an DECREASED risk of depression? 

  • The study authors (1) found that high intakes of fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy, antioxidants, and whole grain was associated with a decreased risk of depression (1)
  • Another review found that seafood, vegetables, fruit and nuts based food patterns was associated with a reduced risk of depression. (2)
  • A study of 15,980 adults over 10.8 years found that higher consumption of fruits and nuts, while lower consumption of fast food led to a reduced depression risk (3).

What food patterns were found to have an INCREASED risk of depression? (1)

  • The study authors (1) found that high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, (added sugars)/sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy was associated with an increased risk of depression (1).

Are there clinical studies where food pattern was used to TREAT depression? 

Yes. The HELFIMED (4) and SMILES trials (5) used food as a treatment of depressive disorders.

How effective was this?

In both of these trials (4,5), the improvement was almost 50%, which is comparable to some therapies and some antidepressant medications; and benefits lasted for several months afterwards.

What are some caveats?

  • These studies show that nutrition can be helpful to improve depression, but further study is needed.
  • Nutritious food choices DO NOT have to be expensive food choices, and in many cases whole foods can be more affordable than processed foods.
  • For some people, good nutrition is not enough replace counseling or medications, but can be a useful addition.
  • Different people can be healthiest on different styles of eating, depending on a variety of factors.
  • Even with good food choices, it is important to get enough calories; and not engage in restriction or disordered eating behaviors.
    • TDEE calculators and this chart may be helpful in estimating daily calorie needs.
  • Individuals with eating disorders should seek professional assistance via nutritionist, eating disorder specialist, etc. when considering nutritional adjustments.
  • The Food Pantry at OSU is another useful resource.

Any other resources to improve nutrition?

How is your nutrition? What is the quality of your food choices? Are you eating enough or too much food? Are you eating foods that worsen or improve depression?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Li, Ye & Lv, Mei-Rong & Wei, Yan-Jin & Sun, Ling & Zhang, Ji-Xiang & Zhang, Huai-Guo & Li, Bin. (2017). Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research. 253. 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.04.020.
  2.  Martínez-González MA1, Sánchez-Villegas A2. Food patterns and the prevention of depression. Proc Nutr Soc. 2016 May;75(2):139-46. doi: 10.1017/S0029665116000045. Epub 2016 Feb 22.
  3. Fresán, U., Bes-Rastrollo, M., Segovia-Siapco, G. et al. Does the MIND diet decrease depression risk? A comparison with Mediterranean diet in the SUN cohort. Eur J Nutr (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-018-1653-x
  4. Natalie Parletta, Dorota Zarnowiecki, Jihyun Cho, Amy Wilson, Svetlana Bogomolova, Anthony Villani, Catherine Itsiopoulos, Theo Niyonsenga, Sarah Blunden, Barbara Meyer, Leonie Segal, Bernhard T. Baune & Kerin O’Dea (2017) A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression: A randomized controlled trial (HELFIMED),Nutritional Neuroscience,  DOI: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1411320 
  5. Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Opie R, et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the “SMILES” trial). BMC Medicine. 2017;15:23. doi:10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y.

Does Omega 3 supplementation help with depression?

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Omega 3 supplements are widely available over the counter and are sold with various claims.

There are many studies looking at omega 3 supplementation for different conditions such as depressed mood, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, adhd, etc.

My self and many psychiatrists will often discuss potential benefits of EPA fish oil Omega 3 supplementation in certain cases.

A recent meta analysis (study of studies) looked at omega 3 supplements and major depressive disorder, a specific type of depressive disorder (1).

What did the study involve?

  • The study authors (1) looked at 1,955 studies, the study authors identified 1233 individuals from 15 studies with major depressive disorder who were given omega 3 supplements.
  • Study authors (1) factored out studies with design flaws, limitations, or other biases.

What were some of the results (1)?

  • After adjusting for many variables, taking potential publication bias into account, this review article found that Omega 3 fatty acids were found to be helpful for Major depressive disorder. (1)
  • Higher doses of EPA Omega 3’s were associated with better outcomes.(1)
  • Participants taking EPA Omega 3’s with antidepressant also benefited. (1)
  • DHA (another type of Omega 3) to EPA ratio and DHA dose did not make a difference in Major Depressive disorder symptoms. (1)

What are some caveats about Omega 3 from fish oil?

  • Omega 3s from non seafood sources may not have the same brain impact has seafood based omega 3’s.
  • Not all antidepressants have been studied with EPA Omega 3 supplements.
  • Long term effects of high dose EPA (which is a sub-type of Omega 3) is not known.
  • At this time, there is not a widely standardized way predict who will see mood benefits from Omega 3 supplementation.
  • While the exact dose of EPA Omega 3’s have not been identified for everyone, the studies cited in this review (1)used a dose range of upto 4400mg per day.
  • To prevent any interactions with your medications, it may be best to check with your prescriber before starting fish oil Omega 3 supplementation.
  • Medicine and supplements are not a replacement for unhealthy lifestyle habits.
  • This was a helpful study for individuals with major depression, and further study is warranted for other conditions and combination of conditions.

What are some additional resources?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Mocking RJT, et. al. Meta-analysis and meta-regression of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for major depressive disorder.  Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e756; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.29 Published online 15 March 2016