Including fish in dietary choices may have an unexpected benefit on curbing depression according to a new study.
Stemming from the Medical College of Qingdao University in China, the meta-analysis of 26 studies conducted between 2001 and 2014 showed that including fish in dietary choices in an increased proportion led to better results regarding the mental health of the over 150,000 participants in the study.
Particularly, consuming fish was linked to preventing the onset of depression. The findings of the study led by doctor Fang Li are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
According to the authors:
“Higher fish consumption may be beneficial in the primary prevention of depression. Future studies are needed to further investigate whether this association varies according to the type of fish”.
With approximately 350 million around the globe affected by depression, these findings could represent an easy way to make a significant change. Even more so when we consider that conventional treatments and therapies for depression have a low rate of success and present some side effects. According to the new research, depression onset could be prevented as easy as by including fish in dietary choices, amongst other changes in lifestyle.
The meta-analysis found consistent patterns of depression onset prevention linked to fish consumption. Overall, the results indicated that including fish in dietary choices lowered the risk of developing depression by 17 percent. This association is not proved to be a causal relationship. More studies are needed to look into the matter.
Moreover, the results differed between gender groups. Depression incidence with women who consumed more fish dropped by 16 percent. For men, the same risk dropped by 20 percent overall.
One puzzling finding is that the association between increasingly including fish in dietary choices and curbing the risk of depression onset was significant statistically for Europe and less so for Asia, Australia, North America or South America.
Perhaps it’s the type of fish that matters. Nonetheless, the more puzzling question at the moment is what makes fish such a good dietary choice in order to prevent depression. Currently, science cannot provide an answer.
Simon Rego who is the director of psychology training with the Montefiore Medical Center commented that while this is just an association and not an established cause-effect relation, it’s still promising to learn that for some people depression may be prevented just by including more fish in their diets.
Omega-3 fatty acids present in fish may be responsible for altering the way in which neurotransmitters function.
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