Time for FDA approval of the Mediterranean diet to treat depression? - Drew Ramsey MD

2017 witnessed the publication of the first ever randomized clinical trials that tested if dietary change could treat moderate to severe depression.

The SMILES study and recent HELFIMED trial both conclude that it works.

The HELFIMED trial was published just last month, December 2017, in the Journal of Nutritional Neuroscience. The trial followed 152 participants randomized to two groups. The group randomized to the experimental treatment group received a food hamper filled with brain food (olive oil, nuts, beans, canned fish, fresh veggies) along with a Mediterranean based diet cooking class every 2 weeks and took 2 fish oil pills (for a total of 900mg DHA/200mg EPA per day). The control group received supportive group therapy. The intervention lasted for three months and research scales were used to assess the participant’s dietary intake, mood, anxiety, and quality of life (DASS-21, AQoL, PANAS).

The results? The first piece of good news mimics what we see in the clinic – people are really good and changing how they eat – it just takes some thoughtful work. At three and six months, participants in the food intervention group significantly increased their dietary quality scores i.e. they ate more brain food and less processed food, confections and meat. Change happened and it stuck.

The folks who started eating the Medi diet saw their depression scores improve by 45%. Take that in. The researchers calculated that there was a 1.68 times greater improvement compared to the social support control group.

A final neat aspect of this study was the measurement of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the cell membranes of red blood cells. They found some correlations between increased EPA levels and reduced stress and anxiety and increased DHA with reduced negative emotions. Yes, fatty fish makes you more positive! I don’t use measurements like this clinically, but it is nice to see in the research.

The FDA approves medications for a mental health condition like depression after it is demonstrated to beat placebo in two separate trials (last I checked). Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could prescribe a food hamper and Medi-diet cooking classes for interested patients with depression and insurance covered it? Well, hats off to our brainfood colleagues in Australia for adding a solid piece of evidence to our puzzle.

My hope is that this science helps show you that there are factors under your control, tools like food, that you can start integrating in your next meal to help you, your patients or your loved ones struggling with depression. Because the truth is, all of us have been touched by depression, whether it’s friends, colleagues, family or our own very personal struggle. It is ubiquitous. And this information needs to be out there.

If you’re looking for support integrating more brain food into your diet, consider checking out our e-course, Eat To Beat Depression, or booking a session with our health coach, Samantha Elkrief.

Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen


From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.


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The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.


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Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.


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