3 diet changes that help depression

Certain diet changes can help depression says nutritionist Rick Miller and they include eating more fat and meat…

Food can certainly affect your mood and that’s no more apparent with conditions such as depression which affects many different people across the UK of all different age groups. Food provides the fuel for your brain which requires neurotransmitters or chemical messengers and that tells our brain what to do, when and how to feel during the course of the day.

Recent research just released this year by bmc medicine knwon as ‘The SMILES trial’ has shown that a modified Mediterranean style diet can actually help to reduce the symptoms of depression in people with clinically diagnosed depressive symptoms. So what kind of things do you need to consider with a modified Mediterranean styled diet?


  1. Eat a low refined carbohydrate diet

This means reducing all sources of added sugars and processed grains and swapping these for wholegrain sources of carbohydrates such as legumes, chickpeas, lentils, peas with a lot of starchy vegetables.  This helps to balance out the blood sugar levels during the day. If you have stable blood sugar levels that means that it can stabilise your mood and prevent yourself going up and down in emotions throughout the day.


2. Dietary fat

The research has shown that you need to embrace dietary fat, in fact up to 40% of the participant’s diet was composed of fat. Choosing fats that are deemed to be healthy fats such as avocados, cold pressed seed oils that consist of extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, eggs as well and nuts and seeds all help to get in those essential fatty acids. Also all of your neurological tissue and tissues in the brain are mainly composed of fat and many of the neurotransmitters are based upon cholesterol, which is a type of fat derivative, so eating an embraced fat is essential to having a diet for an improved mood.


3. Animal sources of protein

Including animal sources of protein in your diet is important due to these particular sources being rich in zinc, iron and vitamin B12. Not only that but these forms of nutrients in the animal protein are best absorbed and they contain no anti-nutrients which are things that won’t stop these nutrients being absorbed through the gut.

If you choose not to eat any animal products or you follow a vegan diet then not to worry as you can take a high quality supplement that contains iron, zinc and vitamin B12. By doing so, this can make sure that you get all of these nutrients into your diet and not miss out on any brain function benefits. Try: Biocare Multivitamins & Minerals £11.95


Is there anything you need to avoid or reduce?

To help improve your mood research has shown that cutting down on processed foods such as overly refined breads or baked goods, reducing sugary treats, things like sweets or chocolates or even cutting down on fried foods and deep fried foods can really help with improving your diet and improving the symptoms of depression.

There is conflicting advice for alcohol as some people have said it can increase and some would say it can decrease symptoms. However, research has shown that 1-2 drinks a day of a good quality red or white wine is ok but anything above that is probably going to be detrimental to your mood and improving your symptoms.



Rick Miller is a consultant clinical and sports performance dietitian. He is also guest senior lecturer in Dietetics and Nutrition at various Universities including, Loughborough University, Hull-York Medical School and London Metropolitan University. Today Rick has undergone further training as a Functional Medicine practitioner and combines both integrative medicine and orthodox Dietetics to provide a comprehensive, holistic approach to his nutrition treatment. He is a council member in Functional Dietetics for the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy and supports the training of other UK Dietitians in the Functional Medicine method. Rick holds a specialist interest in orthopaedics and recovery from sports injuries, paralympic and disability sports and elite sports performance nutrition. As a senior lecturer, Rick also covers the full breadth of clinical conditions but specialises in digestive health and gastroenterology conditions, food allergy and intolerance, men’s health and women’s health and paediatrics. More information at Rick’s website. Follow Rick On Twitter


‘How I overcame depression without medication’

6 best apps for mental health

13 things NOT to say to a man who has depression

10 ways to improve mental health at work (yours and other people’s)

What it’s REALLY like to live with schizophrenia

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine


Stress symptoms? 7 instant fixes you can do at your desk

Stress symptoms making you miserable? From neck stretches to candles, osteopath Kemmy Gichaba reveals 7 instant stress fixes you can do at your desk

Medical Doctor reveals 5 daily habits that could be harming your mental health FEATURED
Mood and Mind

Front-line doctor reveals 6 ways to manage your mood post-pandemic

Mental Health Awareness - Dr Emeka, medical doctor and brand Ambassador for fitness app Freeletics, reveals 6 ways to manage your mood post-pandemic

Tired of being tired all the time 7 tried and tested ways to improve your snooze FEATURED

Tired all the time? 7 tried and tested ways to improve your snooze

Sick of feeling tired all the time? Frequent sleep struggler Charlotte Dormon reveals seven of the best tried and tested strategies to improve your snooze

5 ways to convince your partner to use sex toys & spice things up in the bedroom FEATURED
Sex Toys

5 ways to convince your partner to use sex toys & spice things up in the bedroom

Looking to spice things up in the bedroom, but your partner isn't convinced? Johanna Rief reveals 5 ways you can convince your partner to try out sex toys

Incorporate turmeric into your diet with these 3 healthy recipes featured

Incorporate turmeric into your diet with these 3 healthy recipes

Professional footballer Thomas Hal Robson Kanu reveals 3 healthy recipes that will help you to incorporate turmeric into your diet 

kinky, road trip, orgasm, female, healthista

7 types of female orgasms – which ones have you had?

For National Orgasm Day writer Stephanie Theobald shares her secrets on the 7 types of female orgasms - do any sound familiar to you?

Latest Video Series


Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.