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Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized controlled trial

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Omnivorous diets are high in arachidonic acid (AA) compared to vegetarian diets. Research shows that high intakes of AA promote changes in brain that can disturb mood. Omnivores who eat fish regularly increase their intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fats that oppose the negative effects of AA in vivo. In a recent cross-sectional study, omnivores reported significantly worse mood than vegetarians despite higher intakes of EPA and DHA. This study investigated the impact of restricting meat, fish, and poultry on mood. Thirty-nine omnivores were randomly assigned to a control group consuming meat, fish, and poultry daily (OMN); a group consuming fish 3-4 times weekly but avoiding meat and poultry (FISH), or a vegetarian group avoiding meat, fish, and poultry (VEG). At baseline and after two weeks, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, the Profile of Mood States questionnaire and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales. After the diet intervention, VEG participants reduced their EPA, DHA, and AA intakes, while FISH participants increased their EPA and DHA intakes. Mood scores were unchanged for OMN or FISH participants, but several mood scores for VEG participants improved significantly after two weeks. Restricting meat, fish, and poultry improved some domains of short-term mood state in modern omnivores. To our knowledge, this is the first trial to examine the impact of restricting meat, fish, and poultry on mood state in omnivores.
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... Although omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from fatty fish [72], some smaller pre-pandemic studies suggested that a diet free of fish (and other animal products) may be better for mood improvement [73]. In 2012, Beezhold and colleagues randomized 39 omnivores to one of three groups: (1) a control group consuming meat, fish, and poultry daily, (2) a group consuming fish 3-4 times weekly but avoiding poultry and meat, and finally, (3) a lacto-ovo vegetarian group avoiding meat, fish, and poultry [74]. Within just 2 weeks, participants in the second group substantially increased their omega-3 intake (~ 270-364 mg/ day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)). ...
... One potential explanation is that participants in the second group significantly increased their intake of saturated fat, cholesterol and arachidonic acid (AA) [74]. AA, an omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), is a precursor to a number of potent pro-inflammatory mediators, such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins [75,76]. ...
... Pathologically elevated levels of these pro-inflammatory cytokines have been repeatedly associated with adverse effects on neurotransmitters [77] and elevated levels of inflammation were found in men with anxiety disorders [78]. The study by Beezhold et al. [74] suggests that even the higher dietary intake of fish-derived EPA and DHA, which are generally considered anti-inflammatory [79], failed to compensate for the harmful pro-inflammatory effects of arachidonic acid [73]. ...
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Purpose of Review The SARS-CoV-2-pandemic has caused mortality and morbidity at an unprecedented global scale. Many patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 continue to experience symptoms after the acute phase of infection and report fatigue, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression as well as arthralgia and muscle weakness. Summarized under the umbrella term “long-COVID,” these symptoms may last weeks to months and impose a substantial burden on affected individuals. Dietary approaches to tackle these complications have received comparably little attention. Although plant-based diets in particular were shown to exert benefits on underlying conditions linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes, their role with regard to COVID-19 sequelae is yet largely unknown. Thus, this review sought to investigate whether a plant-based diet could reduce the burden of long-COVID. Recent Findings The number of clinical trials investigating the role of plant-based nutrition in COVID-19 prevention and management is currently limited. Yet, there is evidence from pre-pandemic observational and clinical studies that a plant-based diet may be of general benefit with regard to several clinical conditions that can also be found in individuals with COVID-19. These include anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and musculoskeletal pain. Adoption of a plant-based diet leads to a reduced intake in pro-inflammatory mediators and could be one accessible strategy to tackle long-COVID associated prolonged systemic inflammation. Summary Plant-based diets may be of general benefit with regard to some of the most commonly found COVID-19 sequelae. Additional trials investigating which plant-based eating patterns confer the greatest benefit in the battle against long-COVID are urgently warranted.
... Additionally, these groups were more likely to be prescribed medication for mental-health issues (Baines, Powers, and Brown 2007). However, some studies suggested the opposite conclusion (Beezhold et al. 2015;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010), and the findings regarding other less clearly defined concepts (e.g., mood states, affective well-being, stress perception, quality of life) were less obvious (Beezhold et al. 2015;Beezhold and Johnston 2012;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010;Boldt et al. 2018;Pfeiler and Egloff 2018;Wirnitzer et al., 2018 Our analysis showed that these contradictory findings were engendered by numerous factors (Dobersek et al., 2020). These included the inconsistent categorization of vegans and vegetarians, poor operationalization of psychological outcomes, biased recruitment and sampling strategies (Beezhold and Johnston 2012;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010;Lindeman 2002;Perry et al. 2001;Timko, Hormes, and Chubski 2012), invalid dietary assessment protocols (e.g., food frequency questionnaires, FFQs) (Archer, Pavela, and Lavie 2015;Archer, Hand, and Blair 2013;Archer, Lavie, and Hill 2018a;Lavie 2018b, 2018c), and statistical and communication errors (e.g., failure to correct for multiple comparisons, inappropriate use of causal language). ...
... However, some studies suggested the opposite conclusion (Beezhold et al. 2015;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010), and the findings regarding other less clearly defined concepts (e.g., mood states, affective well-being, stress perception, quality of life) were less obvious (Beezhold et al. 2015;Beezhold and Johnston 2012;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010;Boldt et al. 2018;Pfeiler and Egloff 2018;Wirnitzer et al., 2018 Our analysis showed that these contradictory findings were engendered by numerous factors (Dobersek et al., 2020). These included the inconsistent categorization of vegans and vegetarians, poor operationalization of psychological outcomes, biased recruitment and sampling strategies (Beezhold and Johnston 2012;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010;Lindeman 2002;Perry et al. 2001;Timko, Hormes, and Chubski 2012), invalid dietary assessment protocols (e.g., food frequency questionnaires, FFQs) (Archer, Pavela, and Lavie 2015;Archer, Hand, and Blair 2013;Archer, Lavie, and Hill 2018a;Lavie 2018b, 2018c), and statistical and communication errors (e.g., failure to correct for multiple comparisons, inappropriate use of causal language). In summary, study rigor and quality appeared to be the greatest generator of inconsistent findings (Dobersek et al., 2020). ...
... Three studies included only females (Baines, Powers, and Brown 2007;Lindeman 2002;Stokes, Gordon, and DiVasta 2011) and one study included only males (Hibbeln et al. 2018). Eight studies included samples from the U.S. or North America (Beezhold et al. 2015;Beezhold and Johnston 2012;Beezhold, Johnston, and Daigle 2010;Forestell and Nezlek 2018;Jin et al. 2021;Perry et al. 2001;Stokes, Gordon, and DiVasta 2011;Timko, Hormes, and Chubski 2012), eleven were from non-U.S. countries (e.g., Europe, Asia, and Oceania) (Baines, Powers, and Brown 2007;Baş, Karabudak, and Kiziltan 2005;Goh et al. 2019;Hessler-Kaufmann et al. 2020;Hibbeln et al. 2018;Kapoor et al. 2017;Lindeman 2002;Matta et al. 2018;Michalak, Zhang, and Jacobi 2012;Paslakis et al. 2020;Velten et al. 2018), and one study included samples from multinational-cohorts (Lavallee et al. 2019). ...
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In this meta-analysis, we examined the quantitative relation between meat consumption or avoidance, depression, and anxiety. In June 2020, we searched five online databases for primary studies examining differences in depression and anxiety between meat abstainers and meat consumers that offered a clear (dichotomous) distinction between these groups. Twenty studies met the selection criteria representing 171,802 participants with 157,778 meat consumers and 13,259 meat abstainers. We calculated the magnitude of the effect between meat consumers and meat abstainers with bias correction (Hedges's g effect size) where higher and positive scores reflect better outcomes for meat consumers. Meat consumption was associated with lower depression (Hedges's g = 0.216, 95% CI [0.14 to 0.30], p < .001) and lower anxiety (g = 0.17, 95% CI [0.03 to 0.31], p = .02) compared to meat abstention. Compared to vegans, meat consumers experienced both lower depression (g = 0.26, 95% CI [0.01 to 0.51], p = .041) and anxiety (g = 0.15, 95% CI [-0.40 to 0.69], p = .598). Sex did not modify these relations. Study quality explained 58% and 76% of between-studies heterogeneity in depression and anxiety, respectively. The analysis also showed that the more rigorous the study, the more positive and consistent the relation between meat consumption and better mental health. The current body of evidence precludes causal and temporal inferences.
... Finally, a few studies have found lower levels of anxiety and depression among people adopting a vegetarian diet [29,34,35]. In the only randomized controlled trial currently available, a large multicenter nutrition intervention found that a vegan diet (without any animal products) appeared inversely related to depression and anxiety [35]. ...
... Finally, a few studies have found lower levels of anxiety and depression among people adopting a vegetarian diet [29,34,35]. In the only randomized controlled trial currently available, a large multicenter nutrition intervention found that a vegan diet (without any animal products) appeared inversely related to depression and anxiety [35]. However, as was acknowledged by the authors of that study, the control group did not receive any intervention, and the mere presence of an intervention in the nutrition intervention group could have accounted for the observed effects. ...
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Objective The relationship between vegetarianism and mental health is controversial. The aim of the present study is to examine the cross-sectional association between anxiety, depression, and vegetarianism in a French sample while controlling for potential confounders. Design Self-reported questionnaire data were obtained from a large cross-sectional sample. Participants and setting We included an online sample of 6578 participants aged 18–90, 70.8% females. Results Analyses of variance with age, gender, body mass index (BMI), educational level, monthly income, and city size as covariates showed that vegetarians and non-vegetarians did not appear to have significantly different levels of anxiety or depression. Conclusion Our findings do not suggest a link between plant-based diet and anxiety or depression, either before or after adjustment for relevant factors.
... iz ocene zmerne učinkovitosti vadbe v oceno majhne klinične učinkovitosti, in sicer v primeru, ko je ocena tveganosti pristranskosti v pregledu uporabljenih raziskav nejasna ali večja (Spedding, 2015). 6 Raziskava z manjšim številom preučevanih bolnikov in z visokim tveganjem pristranskosti objave lahko pokaže pretirane učinke vadbe zoper depresijo, medtem ko imajo lahko raziskave z nižjim tveganjem pristranskosti ali večje raziskave manjši vpliv na končno oceno učinkovitosti vadbe zoper depresijo. 7 Cochrane je največja globalna neodvisna mreža znanstvenikov in drugih strokovnjakov s področja zdravja, kjer so številni sodelavci vodilni na svojih področjih, in sicer na področju medicine, zdravstvene politike, raziskovalne metodologije ali pri zagovorništvu potrošnikov (Cochrane, 2018). ...
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In the 21 st century, depression and depressive disorders became a personal and social problem, since they are-in their more pronounced form-diseases that globally present the main reason for disability and the fourth largest public health challenge. Today, scientists are unanimous that a single efficient treatment of depression is yet to be discovered. Besides psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, with its antidepressants, presents the main approach to the treatment of depressive disorders. However, there exists a reasonable doubt about the efficacy of currently prescribed antidepressants and a strong concern over their side effects. Therefore, numerous authors have begun exploring alternative approaches, connected with lifestyle, which assist in regulating the symptoms of depression. Here, a lot of attention was also given to physical activity and healthy nutrition. Especially planned physical exercise and healthy nutrition were often a subject of discussion when talking about potential treatment of depression. The aim of this article is to assess the importance of the antidepressant effect of physical exercise and healthy nutrition through a relative review of scientific literature on the impact of physical activity and healthy nutrition on the symptoms of depression. This could provide a scientific basis for a potentially closer interdisciplinary cooperation of the experts from the field of sports, psychotherapy and medicine.
... Moreover, a vegetarian diet was associated with lower scores in the depression anxiety stress scale (DASS), and profile of mood state (POMS) questionnaires [239]. Beezhold's group found that mood scores significantly improve after two weeks with a vegetarian diet [240], whereas omnivores' stress levels are lower than vegans' [241]. Contrary to these data, Baines et al., have found that vegetarian women have poorer mental health, which is associated with increased depression compared to non-vegetarian women [242]. ...
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Metabolism and nutrition have a significant role in epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation, which can influence gene expression. Recently, it has been suggested that bioactive nutrients and gut microbiota can alter DNA methylation in the central nervous system (CNS) through the gut–brain axis, playing a crucial role in modulating CNS functions and, finally, behavior. Here, we will focus on the effect of metabolic signals in shaping brain DNA methylation during adulthood. We will provide an overview of potential interactions among diet, gastrointestinal microbiome and epigenetic alterations on brain methylation and behavior. In addition, the impact of different diet challenges on cytosine methylation dynamics in the adult brain will be discussed. Finally, we will explore new ways to modulate DNA hydroxymethylation, which is particularly abundant in neural tissue, through diet.
... 21 Some studies suggest that plant-based diets (PBD) are associated with improved mood and mental health. 22 Others suggest that PBDs are associated with a greater risk of depressive symptoms, 23 24 while others find no relationship. [25][26][27] A meta-analysis of 13 studies by Iguacel et al 28 found that vegans and vegetarians were at increased risk of depression (OR=2.14, 95% CI: 1.11 to 4.15). ...
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Plant-based dietary patterns (vegan and vegetarian) are often considered ‘healthy’ and have been associated with broad health benefits, including decreased risk of obesity and ill health (cardiovascular disease, blood glucose and type II diabetes). However, the association between plant-based diets and mood disorders such as depression remains largely equivocal. This cross-sectional study of 219 adults aged 18–44 (M=31.22, SD=7.40) explored the associations between an estimate of overall plant-based diet quality and depression in vegans (n=165) and vegetarians (n=54). Overall plant-based diet quality was associated with depressive symptoms in vegans and vegetarians F(1, 215)=13.71, p<0.001 accounting for 6% of the variation in depressive symptoms. For those without depression, higher diet quality was protective against depressive symptoms F(1, 125)=6.49, p=0.012. Conversely, for those with depression no association with diet quality was found F(1, 89)=0.01, p=0.963. These findings suggest that a high-quality plant-based diet may be protective against depressive symptoms in vegans and vegetarians. In line with emerging research between food and mental health, higher-quality dietary patterns are associated with a reduced risk of depressive symptoms. Given the rapidly increasing rate of vegan and vegetarian food products within Australia, understanding the potential mechanisms of effects through which a plant-based diet may influence depressive symptoms is required.
... Whitehall II, another cohort study conducted on 3,486 participants, showed that high adherence to "processed food dietary pattern" including processed meat was associated with an increased odds of depression (37). Similarly, a pilot randomized controlled trials have suggested that restriction of meat, fish, and poultry consumption could improve mental state (38). Zhou et al. (23) in a crosssectional study indicated that weekly meat intake was positively correlated with depression symptoms. ...
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To address how interactions between polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels and depressive symptoms were related to proinflammatory cytokine synthesis. Depression and stress promote proinflammatory cytokine production. Dietary intakes of omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs also influence inflammation; high n-6:n-3 ratios enhance proinflammatory cytokine production, although n-3 has anti-inflammatory properties. Blood samples from 43 older adults (mean age = 66.67 years, SD = 10.09) provided data on PUFAs and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-6 soluble receptor (sIL-6r). Depressive symptoms were assessed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Depressive symptoms and n-6:n-3 ratios worked together to enhance proinflammatory cytokines beyond the contribution provided by either variable alone, with substantial variance explained by their interaction: 13% for IL-6 and 31% for TNF-alpha, whereas full models accounted for 18% and 40%, respectively. Although predicted cytokine levels were consistent across n-6:n-3 ratios with low depressive symptoms, higher n-6:n-3 ratios were associated with progressively elevated TNF-alpha and IL-6 levels as depressive symptoms increased. Higher levels of sIL-6r were associated with higher n-6:n-3 ratios. Six individuals who met the criteria for major depressive disorder had higher n-6:n-3 ratios and TNF-alpha, IL-6, and sIL-6r levels than those who did not meet the criteria; excluding these six individuals reduced the variance explained by the depressive symptoms and n-6:n-3 ratio interaction. Diets with high n-6:n-3 PUFA ratios may enhance the risk for both depression and inflammatory diseases.
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Experimental and observational data suggest that a higher dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated acids may lead to a decreased risk of depressive disorders. We assessed multivariable-adjusted associations of fish consumption and dietary intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) with depressive symptoms in a population-based sample of 3317 African-American and Caucasian men and women from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Diet was assessed in year 7 (1992-1993) and depressive symptoms were measured in years 10 (1995-1996), 15 (2000-2001), and 20 (2005-2006) by the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Depressive symptoms were defined as a Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale score > or =16 or self-reported use of antidepressant medication. In the entire cohort, the highest quintiles of intakes of EPA (> or =0.03% energy), DHA (> or =0.05% energy), and EPA + DHA (> or =0.08% energy) were associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms at year 10 (P for trends = 0.16, 0.10, and 0.03, respectively). The observed inverse associations were more pronounced in women. For the total number of occasions with depressive symptoms, the multivariable adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) in women were 0.75 (0.55-1.01) for fish intake, 0.66 (0.50-0.89) for EPA, 0.66 (0.49-0.89) for DHA, and 0.71 (0.52-0.95) for EPA + DHA when comparing the highest with the lowest quintiles. Analyses of continuous Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale scores revealed inverse associations with fourth-root-transformed omega-3 variables in women. Our findings suggest that dietary intakes of fish and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may be inversely associated with chronic depressive symptoms in women.
Article
Unlabelled: Long-chain conversion of linoleic acid (LA) and eicosanoid formation was followed in 6 healthy females who were given for 6 weeks liquid formula diets which contained no arachidonic acid but, for 2 weeks each, a LA supply of 0 energy% (en%), 4 en%, and 20 en%, respectively. Results: higher LA intake resulted in higher LA percentages in investigated lipids, but not in higher amounts of LA present in plasma cholesterol esters or phosphatidylcholine of LDL and HDL comparing liquid formula diet (LFD) 4 and LFD 20. A higher intake of LA resulted in a decrease of arachidonic acid, which was most prominent in HDL phosphatidycholine. Eicosanoids derived from cyclo-oxygenase activity were unchanged by LA intake, while an increase of cytochrome P450-dependent tetranorprostanedioic acid formation was observed with LFD 20. Conclusion: LA intake of 4 en% appears to be a recommendable intake, without signs of stimulated eicosanoid biosynthesis or oxidation.