Several studies have determined that eating certain kinds of food can affect your mental and emotional health, especially if your diet includes a lot of processed foods and refined sugar.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can safely eat desserts or drink sugary beverages if you use artificial sweeteners. While sugar alternatives like aspartame can lower your calorie intake, studies suggest that they can also drastically worsen symptoms in people who already have depression.
In fact, researchers from the University of Northwestern Ohio were forced to cancel a study of artificial sweeteners because some volunteers developed suicidal thoughts. While the participants who did not have depression were not affected in the same way, evidence hints that artificial sweeteners can lower serotonin levels in the brain significantly.
Research has determined that simple, refined carbohydrates lack nutrients and that they are linked to the growing obesity epidemic in the country.
Columbia University researchers conducted a study to verify if simple carbs are also associated with depression. Using data collated from the Women’s Health Initiative, which tracked over 70,000 women, the results showed that the higher a woman’s blood sugar increased after eating refined grains and sugar, the greater her risk of developing depression.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also showed that the opposite is true. Women who followed a diet full of whole grains and healthy produce had a lower risk of depression. (Related: Recent study demonstrates how a healthy diet can reduce symptoms of depression.)
Scientists are learning more about the connection between "sugar’s ability to raise levels of inflammation throughout the brain and body to higher incidences of depression." According to study findings published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, brain inflammation was 30 percent higher in individuals who were clinically depressed.
Findings from a separate study revealed that individuals who took medication to reduce inflammation caused by autoimmune or inflammatory disease had a lower chance of developing symptoms of depression. These results highlight the connection between sugar, which causes inflammation, and an increased incidence of depression.
Avoid eating sugary foods and replace them with these anti-inflammatory foods to improve your mood.
If healthy fats and oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, can lower the risk of various serious health conditions (e.g., depression and heart disease), the opposite is also true.
According to a study, eating a lot of foods that contain unhealthy trans fats may increase your chances of depression by a whopping 48 percent.
Almost all scientific studies analyzing the connection between poor diet and mental illnesses such as depression were focused on a specific food. However, research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry examined the diets of 3,000 people.
The results determined that people who consumed the most processed foods had a much higher rate of depression. On the other hand, people who ate a lot of whole foods had a lower risk of the condition.
The first step to successfully managing your depression is to eliminate processed and sugary foods from your diet. If you already have depression or if you wish to lower your risk, follow a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits, lean meats, and vegetables.