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Following a healthy diet can help prevent depression, a new study says.USDAgov/Flickr

Following a healthy diet can help prevent depression, a new study says.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland looked at 2,000 men, as part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study. All the men included in the study were either middle-aged or old. Information about the participants' diet and mental status were collected via questionnaires and the National Hospital Discharge Register.

Researchers followed the participants between 13 and 20 years and found that a healthy diet, which is particularly rich in folic acid, effectively protected them against the risk of developing depression, during the study period. On the other hand, consuming unhealthy foods like sausages, snacks, sugary drinks, and baked food considerably increased symptoms of depression.

Citing the power of diet in controlling depression, researchers recommended the public to include more fruits, whole-grains, low-fat cheese, fish and poultry to their diet.

"The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention," researcher Anu Ruusunen, said in a University news release.

Researchers also found that losing some weight helped reduce such symptoms.

Depression is the outcome of chemical changes in the brain caused by stress or hormonal changes. It is crucial to detect and treat the problem early as delayed treatment worsens the situation and will lead to self-destructive behaviours and even suicide. According to health experts at the Mayo Clinic in the US, traumatic experiences during childhood, stressful life events, giving birth, addiction to alcohol, certain medications for controlling high BP or using pills to treat poor sleep and decreased production of serotonin (a chemical that manages hunger and senses related to happiness) during winter can increase the risk of depression.

Some food items that help fight depression include papaya, berries, garlic, asparagus, avocado, oatmeal, cashews, peaches, guava, mangoes, chamomile tea, chocolate, green tea, oranges, oysters, apple and walnut.