The SMILES diet
Evidence from scientific studies show that healthy diets are associated with healthier moods, whilst unhealthy diets are associated with poor mental health. To examine the relationship between diet and mood more closely, researchers ran a trial called the SMILES study. They developed the ModiMed Diet for this trial and found that, after 3 months on this diet, participants were significantly happier. The diagram and points below outline the main components of the ModiMed Diet.
1. Eat more fruit and vegetables
The ModiMed Diet recommends having at least 3 serves of fruit and 6 serves of vegetables every day. This is more than the current Australian recommendations of 2 and 5 serves, and significantly more than the average Australian intake of 1 serve of fruit and 2 serves of vegetables per day.
2. Increase your fibre intake
Choosing wholegrains over refined or white grain products and including plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds significantly increases fibre intake. The daily fibre intake in this diet is 50g, compared to 20g in the average Australian diet.
3. Increase your intake of good fats
Olive oil, nuts and seeds and oily fish are emphasised. These foods are rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, which play an important role in keeping our brains healthy.
4. Choose protein sources wisely
Many Australians eat too much red meat. This diet balances lean red meat consumption with other forms of protein including poultry, fish and eggs.
5. Limit “celebratory” or “discretionary” foods
Researchers found that what was left out of the diet was just as important as what was left in. The ModiMed diet limits sugary snacks, fried foods, processed meats and alcohol other than red wine without banning them completely. This makes sticking to the diet more achievable for most people.
We all know that eating well is important for our physical health. Now we know that eating well is equally important for our mental wellbeing.