The effects of wheat germ consumption on mental health and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Nutr Neurosci. 2022 Jan;25(1):46-53. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1708032. Epub 2021 May 13.


Objectives: Herbals, as bioactive foods, have been one of the most popular alternatives and complementary treatments in preventing and controlling type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The aim of the present trial was to examine the effects of wheat germ consumption on mental health and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) among patients with T2DM.Methods: Eighty participants with T2DM were randomly allocated to receive 20 g wheat germ (n = 40) or placebo (n = 40) in a randomized double-blind clinical trial for 12 weeks. Depression, anxiety, stress scale-21 (DASS-21) questionnaire was used to assess the mental health of study participants. Serum BDNF was assessed at the baseline and end of intervention. Anthropometric indices were measured at the baseline, 6 and 12 weeks during the intervention.Results: A total of 75 subjects completed the trial. Compared with the placebo, wheat germ consumption led to a significant reduction in depression (P = .03) and stress (P = .04) scores. Moreover, a significant increase in serum BDNF concentrations was observed in the wheat germ group (P = .004), while there was no significant difference between the groups. Wheat germ intake had no significant effects on anthropometric indices and anxiety scores between the groups.Conclusion: Our findings showed that wheat germ consumption for 12 weeks could significantly reduce the stress and depression scores but had no significant effects on anxiety scale and anthropometric outcomes in patients with T2DM.

Keywords: Anxiety; BDNF; Mood; Stress; Trial; Wheat germ; depression; type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diet*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Triticum*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • BDNF protein, human