NEW YORK: Poor diet plays a dual role, both contributing to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and impacting mental health, including anxiety and depression, two studies have shown.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes.
Current treatment includes therapy, medication, or both. However, understanding the multifaceted relationship between nutrition, mental health, and diabetes is relatively new to scientific discourse.
In studies published in the journal Nutrients, researchers sought to learn more about the link between nutrition, diabetes and mental health.
Their results showed that mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and that diabetes is also associated with an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. Nutritional interventions can help address both health concerns.
“Our findings 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 health policies public health care practices and dietary recommendations. This can have a positive impact on the general population,” said lead author Raedeh Basiri, assistant professor at George Mason University in the United States.
“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.
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 connection highlights the importance of nutrient-dense food choices 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.