Nutrition plays a central role in diabetes and mental health

People with diabetes (diabetes mellitus) are two to three times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Current treatment includes therapy, medication, or both. However, understanding the multifaceted relationship between nutrition, mental health, and diabetes is relatively new to scientific discourse. Mason researchers sought to learn more about the link between nutrition, diabetes and mental health.

Two literature reviews by Assistant Professor Raedeh Basiri show that poor diet plays a dual role, both contributing to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and impacting mental health, including anxiety and the Depression. According to the results, mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and diabetes is also associated with an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. Nutritional interventions can help address both health concerns.

Our results highlight the central role of dietary choices in reducing risks associated with diabetes and mental health. The implications of these findings extend beyond the scientific community, as they hold promise for informing public health policies, health care practices, and dietary recommendations that can positively impact the general population. »

Raedeh Basiri, lead author of the articles

“Ultimately, the research aims to empower individuals to make informed, health-promoting food choices, which can serve as a proactive strategy for the prevention and management of diabetes, as well as anxiety and depression,” Basiri said.

Specifically, the team’s findings provide a comprehensive view of the relationship between dietary habits, health outcomes, and the critical role of dietary behavior in the context of type 2 diabetes and mental health.

The team found that consuming foods rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, a diet including a large number of processed foods has been shown to have a negative effect, increasing susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.

Additionally, the research team found that a diet consisting of foods that are high in energy but lacking in essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folate, selenium, chromium and magnesium, is associated with the exacerbation of adverse symptoms both in mental health and the development of type 2 diabetes. This link highlights the importance of dietary choices rich in nutrients for overall health and well-being.

“Current scientific evidence highlights the potential benefits of adopting a well-balanced diet to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression while improving glycemic control in people with diabetes,” Basiri said.


Journal references:

  1. Basiri, R., and others. (2023). Key nutrients for optimal blood sugar control and mental health in people with diabetes: a review of the evidence. Nutrients.
  2. Basiri, R., and others. (2023). Exploring the relationships between diabetes, nutrition, anxiety and depression: implications for treatment and prevention strategies. Nutrients.

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