Eat beyond you: Mediterranean diet improves depression and heart in over 70s

We don’t know if the chicken or the egg was born first. The depression it can certainly increase cardiovascular risk. But on the other hand, there is research that shows that those who suffer from high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, overweight and a sedentary lifestyle, not to mention smoking, are more likely to encounter a dark mood. But now research shows that in old age, especially in women, people with cardiovascular risk factors would be at greater risk of developing depression. But it also offers an alternative to contrast the “red thread” that links the two pathologies: at the table, it is advisable to follow the precepts of the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fish and extra virgin olive oil, to improve the danger profile for the heart and arteries and also have a positive effect on mood. To launch this hypothesis is research published on Plos ONEcoordinated by Sandra Martin-Pelaez from the University of Granada.

Keep an eye on the table

The working hypothesis is simple: both in conditions that endanger the heart and arteries and in depression, there are elements in common, starting with inflammation and reaching oxidative stress. Thus, by paying attention to the table (and obviously trying to maintain healthy lifestyle habits in general), we can try to break the link that unites the two conditions within the organism.

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The study reviewed information from research that examined the impact of the Mediterranean diet on overweight or obese men aged 55-75 and women aged 60-75. In total, more than 6500 people were considered who, during the first survey, had no cardiovascular or hormonal diseases. Then we proceeded to the definition of the cardiovascular risk, using a score which made it possible to frame the cardiovascular risk in low, average or high/very high.

Control after 2 years

Also at the time of registration for the study, the presence of a possible depressive state was assessed, then rechecked after two years of observation. The close relationship between the “enemies” of cardiovascular health and depression was immediately clear in women: those who were in the group most at risk for heart and blood vessels were actually more likely to show signs of depression. The common “treatment” for these ailments, in both sexes, developed through a diet according to the rules of the Mediterranean diet for two years. At the end of this period, thanks to this change in diet, the participants improved their mood. But above all, the depressive state improved more in people belonging to groups with high cardiovascular risk, in particular in those with higher cholesterol levels. The benefits, according to the study, are particularly important for women, but in general all the elderly if the cardiovascular risk is high appears associated with symptoms related to depression.

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“The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern based on the daily consumption of a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, unrefined whole grains, extra virgin olive oil as the main source of fat, moderate consumption of dried fruits (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds), fish, fresh dairy products (yogurt and cheeses) and wine (only with meals) and a reduced consumption of red meat, all associated with a modest caloric restriction and to an active lifestyle – explains Cecilia Invitti, Head of the Lifestyle Medicine Service of the Italian Institute of Auxology. The benefits obtained on the cardiovascular risk profile, aging and depression are due to the two pillars of this dietary model. First, the favorable effects of diet on blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, overweight, lipid profile, oxidative stress (implied in the pathogenesis of tumors and dementias as well as cardiovascular diseases) , the composition of the gut microbiota, whose metabolites modulate both the chronic inflammatory state underlying cardio-metabolic and autoimmune diseases and mood. In addition, the active lifestyle that accompanies a healthy diet and has in itself proven antidepressant, anti-aging and protective effects on the cardiovascular system and on certain cancers. smooths the development of cardio-metabolic pathologies even in individuals who are genetically sensitive to them, helping to improve low mood.

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