A poor diet can cause systemic inflammation, which can lead to a higher risk of depression. Eating junk food, a diet of fast food, cakes and, processed meat, increases your risk of depression, according to a recent study.
The study was conducted at Manchester Metropolitan’s Bioscience Research Centre.
The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 300 million people around the world have depression. In the United States, nearly 6.7% of all adults, have practiced a major depressive period in the past year.
Researchers found that consuming a diet containing foods which are known to cause inflammation – such as a diet high in cholesterol, carbohydrates and saturated fats – makes you 40% more likely to develop depression.
The researchers examined data from 11 present studies. These studies focused on the association between depression and pro-inflammatory diets. They involved more than 100,000 participants of varied age (16-72 years old), ethnicity and gender, spanning the Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East.
Inflammation of the gut and the entire body is caused by the high rates of sugar and fat in junk food. This systematic inflammation has same effects as obesity, pollution, and lack of exercise.
Outcomes of the study
All the studies noted the depression or depressive symptoms in the participants through self-observation, medical diagnoses, and antidepressant use, alongside a detailed questionnaire about the contents of their diet.
According to the dietary inflammatory index, each participant was given a score of how inflammatory his/her diet is. Some studies were cross-sectional, that used the immediately available data. But other studies followed participants for up to 13 years.
After many studies, participants with more pro-inflammatory diet were, on average, 1.4 times more probable to have depression. The outcomes were constant irrespective of their age or gender. They were the same over both short and long follow-up periods.
Dr. Steven Bradburn was from the Bioscience Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan’s School of Healthcare Science. He said;
“These outcomes have great clinical potential for the treatment of depression. If it holds true, we can also treat other diseases like Alzheimer’s which also have an underlying inflammatory component.
“Changing your eating habits may be a cheaper alternative to pharmacological interventions, which often possess side-effects.
“This study builds on current advances in the field by others, comprising the first medical trial into dietetic interventions for treating depression. It has also shown useful improvements in depressive symptoms.
“But our outcomes are an association, instead of causality. We need to do more work to confirm the value of modifying dietary patterns in treating depression in relation to inflammation.”
An anti-inflammatory diet is the one which contains more fiber, vitamins, and unsaturated fats. It has the opposite effect and could be applied as a good treatment for depression.
Hence, a Mediterranean diet of tomatoes, green vegetables, olive oil, and fatty fish could help lower depressive symptoms.
Inflammation is the body’s own natural defense mechanism against infections, toxins, and injuries. The body releases different components to protect itself from harm. It releases antibodies, proteins and increased blood-flow to affected areas, causing redness and swelling.
The chronic inflammation puts your body in a constant state of alert. Previously, it has also been linked to diseases like cancer, asthma and heart disease. It can negatively affect brain chemistry, leading to disorders like depression. Such persistent inflammation, mainly in the brain, is believed to cause neuronal death.
Following this new study, health officers encouraged to give nutritional advice to patients facing depression and other mental health problems.