Combat depression by “eating for your age”

On Monday, I shared a study that exposed the lethal risks associated with antidepressant drugs. I also mentioned how proper nutrition is just one way to combat depression that doesn’t come with a long list of potentially life-threatening adverse effects.

But here’s the thing — one-size-fits-all blanket prescriptions are just as much of a myth where diet is concerned as they are for blood pressure. And failing to account for your individual needs could actually be contributing to mood problems rather than correcting them.

According to recent research, one of these critical factors is age. And while it’s only a number to some, your age actually plays an extremely important factor in what you eat and how it affects your state of mind.

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York recently analyzed the relationship between food and mood among young adults (18-29 years old) and mature adults (30 years and older), using data collected from anonymous surveys. And they found that the dietary patterns that may have sustained mental health during your youth won’t necessarily keep you afloat later in life.

Specifically, results showed that younger people require more types of food which boost concentration and the availability of key neurotransmitters in the brain. And adults require more types of food which increase antioxidant availability — and less types of food which activate the sympathetic nervous system.

So what does that mean, practically speaking? Well, for younger adults, it means more meat — which increases brain concentrations of the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine — and more exercise.

In fact, results showed that young adults who ate fewer than three servings of meat daily, and who exercised fewer than three times a week, suffered significant mental distress compared to their peers. (And I can’t say I’m surprised. How many times have I warned you about vegetarianism’s links to depression?)

Older adults’ moods, on the other hand, responded positively to high antioxidant intake (i.e. quality fruits and veggies) — and maybe even more notably, abstaining from habits that trigger the body’s stress response. (Like drinking too much coffee and eating too many carbs.)

The team has plans to investigate gender-related differences between food and mood responses in the future. But for now, I can’t help but notice the one thing these two conclusions have in common.

High protein? Check. Low carb? Check. Antioxidant-rich? Check.

Young or old, you can’t go wrong with my A-list Diet. I discuss six different dieter types and exactly what to eat to make your body work for you. Simply refer to Chapter 2 in my latest book, The A-List Diet, which can be found via my A-List website or