We all know that junk food is bad for our waistlines but could it could it also be wreaking havoc with our mental health?
A professor at the University of Columbia wanted to find out whether foods with a higher glycemic index (GI) are associated with greater odds of falling victim to depression. GI is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-containing foods by how much they raise your blood sugar and some of the most common everyday culprits of this include white bread, sweets, crisps, sugary soft drinks and chips.
The professor, James Gangwisch and a team of researchers looked at data from food questionnaires and a scale that measures symptoms of depressive disorders. The information was gathered from 70,000 women, none of whom had suffered from depression prior to the study.
The results revealed that high GI diets, including those rich in refined grains and added sugar were in fact associated with greater odds of developing depression. At the other end of the scale however, foods that were high in fibre, whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables and sugar from dairy products, were found to have protective effects against developing depression.
Although the authors couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for why high GI foods make us more prone to depression, one theory is that the overconsumption of sugars and refined starches is a risk factor for inflammation and cardiovascular disease - both of which have been linked to the development of depression.
This kind of diet can also lead to insulin resistance which has been linked to cognitive defects similar to those found in people with major depression.
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