22 April 2014

A basket full of healthy foodUniversity of South Australia researchers are launching an important new study to look at the effects of the Mediterranean diet and fish oil supplements on depression.

Researchers are looking for volunteers who have experienced symptoms of depression in the past two months to take part in the study.

Being conducted as part of the Healthy Eating for Life with a Mediterranean Diet (HELFIMED) research team’s efforts to learn more about the connections between healthy eating and healthy minds, the study is a collaboration with researchers at the Universities of Wollongong, Adelaide and La Trobe.

Volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 will sign up for the six month study designed to look at the effects of specific diet and supplements on their mood and health.

Researcher Dr Natalie Parletta cooks a healthy meal. Lead researcher, Dr Natalie Parletta says the study gives the participants a chance to learn something about good nutrition and get a measure of their own health and wellbeing.

“The participants will need to have data collected three times during the study – that involves basic blood and urine sampling, height, weight and waist measurements, a blood pressure check and then some questionnaires,” Dr Parletta says.

“What we are looking at is how diet might impact on mood so half of the participants will be randomised into a group that is involved in nutrition education and cooking classes and will be taking two fish oil capsules a day.

“The control group will attend a fortnightly social group but will not have nutritional intervention. We will reward them for their time with free movie passes during the study and a free supply of fish oil capsules at the end of the study.”

The researchers will be making comparisons between each group to see how people report their mood during the trial.

“Depression is an increasing concern in society affecting people at all ages and stages of their lives,” Dr Parletta says.

“We know that diet is important for good physical health but increasingly we are becoming aware that it is also good for mental health. The same lifestyle risk factors for poor physical health have also been identified for poor mental health, including diet.

“Omega 3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and previous research has suggested they may play a role in maintaining or improving mental health and stability.

“We’re hoping to add to our understanding of the role of healthy eating and omega 3 for the mind and body.”

People interested in volunteering for the study can call (08) 83021365 to register their interest by leaving their name and contact details or email to Sansom.researchvolunteers@unisa.edu.au       

More information about the HELFIMED study is available by contacting dorata.zarnowiecki@unisa.edu.au or Natalie.parletta@unisa.edu.au.

Media contact: Rosanna Galvin office: 08 8302 0578 mobile: 0434 603 457 email: Rosanna.galvin@unisa.edu.au

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