We already know eating a Mediterranean diet comes with a ton of health benefits, but a new study suggests that following the way people in countries like France, Spain, Italy, and Greece live can lower your risk of developing depression.
The so-called Mediterranean lifestyle involves three components: following the well-known diet, plus high levels of socializing and exercising. Researchers followed nearly 12,000 university graduates in Spain for more than eight years. Participants whose day-to-day habits closely mirrored the lifestyle were half as likely to be at risk for depression as the people who didn’t follow the behaviors closely.
To be fair, the findings raise a chicken-or-egg question. People who struggle with depression often feel anxious, fatigued, or isolated. That means they may be less social and less active, two key parts of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
That being said, those of us who are susceptible to depression can make a few key changes in our lives and see if they have an impact. We can try to prioritize seeing friends and family; keeping physically active (or at least not sedentary); and eating foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and olive oil instead of processed foods that are staples of the typical American diet.