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Too much stress on the body can cause changes in the brain leading to symptoms such as fatigue, apathy, low mood, sleep disturbances, nausea, and loss of appetite (3), however, recent research into the Mediterranean diet is showing it can have a significant role in improving our overall mental health (1, 4).

Perimenopause and Diet

Symptoms of anxiety and depression increase significantly during perimenopause. It is important to understand that such psychological disorders can also enhance the risk of chronic diseases (1, 2).

For those not wishing to take the mainstream medical approach of medications, which are known to have many shortcomings with significant side effects, low efficacy rates and high incidences of relapse following withdrawal, recent research has placed increased focus on diet quality and whether it contributes to the resolution of common mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Foods’ Impact on your Mood

The intricate ways in which food influences your mood involve pathways related to inflammation, oxidative stress, energy production, gut microbiota, brain structure, epigenetics, stress hormones, and metabolic processes. As a result, a holistic dietary approach is believed to be more effective than a narrow nutrient-based one in managing anxiety and depression symptoms.

Discover Nutritional Psychiatry

Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging field, as the medical community seeks for safe and effective alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions, supported by a body of growing evidence demonstrating its effectiveness.

Embrace the Mediterranean Diet

The latest research strongly suggests that those who follow the Mediterranean style of eating experience an uplift in their mental health, primarily due to its plant-based nature. This diet is rich in phytochemicals, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, far surpassing the standard Western diet.

The Gut Brain Connection

Recent attention has turned to the gut microbiome in mental health. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) generated from dietary fiber fermentation by gut bacteria have a positive impact on the immune system. In contrast, lipopolysaccharides (LPS) released by gram-negative bacteria can have harmful effects.

Studies have revealed that patients with clinical depression have elevated IgA and/or IgM immune responses to LPS. Additionally, the link between increased intestinal permeability and gut dysbiosis is thought to contribute to the inflammatory response and heightened oxidative stress observed in clinical depression (1).

Combat Neuroinflammation

Fiber shapes the gut microbiota, and whole grains are rich in phytochemicals, acting as shields against oxidative stress. Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and legumes are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Polyphenols, abundant in fruits and vegetables, are a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, offering a wealth of antioxidants. These compounds are believed to modulate the microbiota, act as antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents in the digestive system, boost antioxidant defenses (such as Nrf2), and regulate inflammatory pathways to reduce oxidative stress (5-7).

Unleash the Mental Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Improving your dietary habits with the Mediterranean Diet can not only alleviate depressive symptoms but also enhance your overall health, reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, cardiovascular issues, and metabolic diseases.

Take Action Today

Purely Wellness provides functional testing to assess neurotransmitter imbalances and dietary support for improving gut function, mental health and overall wellbeing. If you’re struggling with a mood disorder and seek safe and effective support, take the first step towards a healthier, happier you. Book a consult here now!. Your journey to better mental health starts here.


  1. Berk M, Williams LJ, Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Pasco JA, Moylan S, et al. So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from? BMC medicine. 2013;11:200.
  2. Mental Health: World Health Organisation; [Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1.
  3. Jesulola E, Micalos P, Baguley IJ. Understanding the pathophysiology of depression: From monoamines to the neurogenesis hypothesis model – are we there yet? Behavioural brain research. 2018;341:79-90.
  4. Sadeghi O, Keshteli AH, Afshar H, Esmaillzadeh A, Adibi P. Adherence to Mediterranean dietary pattern is inversely associated with depression, anxiety and psychological distress. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2021;24(4):248-59.
  5. Loo YT, Howell K, Chan M, Zhang P, Ng K. Modulation of the human gut microbiota by phenolics and phenolic fiber‐rich foods. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science & Food Safety. 2020;19(4):1268-98.
  6. Maes M, Galecki P, Chang YS, Berk M. A review on the oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS) pathways in major depression and their possible contribution to the (neuro)degenerative processes in that illness. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 2011;35(3):676-92.
  7. Marx W, Lane M, Hockey M, Aslam H, Berk M, Walder K, et al. Diet and depression: exploring the biological mechanisms of action. Molecular psychiatry. 2021;26(1):134-50.

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Online Naturopath, Nutritionist & Wellness Coach, supporting womens mental wellbeing throughout menopause.

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