AIMS: We aimed to explore the relationships between diet quality, dietary inflammatory potential or body mass index and outcomes of a clinical trial of nutraceutical treatment for bipolar depression.
METHODS: This is a sub-study of a randomised controlled trial of participants with bipolar depression who provided dietary intake data (n = 133). Participants received 16 weeks adjunctive treatment of either placebo or N-acetylcysteine-alone or a combination of mitochondrial-enhancing nutraceuticals including N-acetylcysteine (combination treatment). Participants were followed up 4 weeks post-treatment discontinuation (Week 20). Diet was assessed by the Cancer Council Victoria Dietary Questionnaire for Epidemiological Studies, Version 2, converted into an Australian Recommended Food Score to measure diet quality, and energy-adjusted dietary inflammatory index score to measure inflammatory potential of diet. Body mass index was also measured. Generalised estimating equation models were used to assess whether diet quality, energy-adjusted dietary inflammatory index score and/or body mass index were predictors of response to significant outcomes of the primary trial: depression symptoms, clinician-rated improvement and functioning measures.
RESULTS: In participants taking combination treatment compared to placebo, change in depression scores was not predicted by Australian Recommended Food Score, dietary inflammatory index or body mass index scores. However, participants with better diet quality (Australian Recommended Food Score) reported reduced general depression and bipolar depression symptoms (p = 0.01 and p = 0.03, respectively) and greater clinician-rated improvement (p = 0.02) irrespective of treatment and time. Participants who had a more anti-inflammatory dietary inflammatory index had less impairment in functioning (p = 0.01). Combination treatment may attenuate the adverse effects of pro-inflammatory diet (p = 0.03) on functioning. Participants with lower body mass index who received combination treatment (p = 0.02) or N-acetylcysteine (p = 0.02) showed greater clinician-rated improvement.
CONCLUSION: These data support a possible association between diet (quality and inflammatory potential), body mass index and response to treatment for bipolar depression in the context of a nutraceutical trial. The results should be interpreted cautiously because of limitations, including numerous null findings, modest sample size and being secondary analyses.