Could fish lower depression risk?
There are lots of reasons why we should make sure our diet is rich in fish; it's source of Omega 3, helps to fight heart disease and now, according to new research, could fight depression.
Researchers at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Shandong, China, have found that people who eat a lot of fish are less likely to be depressed. In fact, men who had a fish-rich diet saw their risk drop by a fifth – or 20 per cent – while women saw a 16 per cent drop.
The scientists believe the Omega 3 found in fish may alter the structure of brain membranes and modify the activity of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Dopamine and serotonin’s activities can also be changed, and this is particularly important, because both of them are thought to be involved in depression.
High-quality protein, vitamins and minerals are also found in fish, with the team believing they keep depression at bay and maintain a healthy diet.
Eating well has always been highlighted as a way to deal with depression, with organisations encouraging us to maintain a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and wholegrain to stave off the condition. However a direct link between fish and mental health has never been fully explored, and remains a divisive subject.
“The association between fish consumption and risk of depression is controversial,” said Professor Dongfeng Zhang at the Medical College of Qingdao University. “Many studies have investigated the associations between food consumption and depression risk. Furthermore, a meta-analysis published recently indicated that a healthy dietary pattern, characterised by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, was significantly associated with a reduced risk of depression. However, it is not yet clear which component of the dietary pattern would be responsible for the protective effect.”
According to the World Health Organisation, depression affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide. But Professor Zhang added more research needs to be done on the direct link between seafood and mental health condition and whether its effectiveness varies according to the type of fish consumed.