According to the Centers for Disease Control, people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to suffer from depression than people without diabetes. Current treatments include therapy, medications, or both. However, understanding of the multifaceted relationship between nutrition, mental health, and diabetes is relatively new in scientific discourse. Mason University researchers sought to understand the connection between nutrition, diabetes and mental health.
Two literature reviews by Assistant Professor Raedeh Basiri suggest that malnutrition has a dual role, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and affecting mental health, including anxiety and depression. The findings show that mental disorders such as depression and anxiety increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, and diabetes is also associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Nutritional interventions can help address both of these health issues.
“Our findings highlight the critical role of dietary choices in reducing risks associated with diabetes and mental health. The implications of these findings extend beyond the scientific community as they are expected to inform public health policy, Healthcare practices and dietary recommendations provide information that positively impacts the general public.
“Ultimately, this research aims to empower individuals to make informed, health-promoting dietary choices, which can serve as proactive strategies for preventing and managing diabetes as well as anxiety and depression,” Basili said.
More specifically, the team’s findings provide a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between dietary patterns, health outcomes, and the critical role of dietary behaviors in type 2 diabetes and mental health.
The team found that eating foods rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, diets high in processed foods have been found to have negative effects, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.
Additionally, the team found that a diet high in energy-dense foods but lacking in essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, selenium, chromium and magnesium, was associated with poor mental health symptoms. Exacerbations are associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. This connection highlights the importance of nutrient-dense dietary choices for overall health and well-being.
“Current scientific evidence highlights that following a balanced dietary regimen can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression while enhancing glycemic control in people with diabetes,” Basiri said.
“Exploring the interrelationships between diabetes, nutrition, anxiety, and depression: Implications for treatment and prevention strategies,” was published in the journal Nutrients in September 2023, with Mason nutrition master’s students Blessing Seidu and Mark Rudich as co-authors.
“Key Nutrients for Optimal Glycemic Control and Mental Health in People with Diabetes: A Review of the Evidence,” was published in the journal Nutrients in September 2023, with Seidu and Mason Professor Lawrence Cheskin as co-authors.
Neither study received external funding.