Feeling blue? Blame it on your burger or brownie. Find out the new research that suggests McDonald’s may need a new name for their (un)Happy Meal!
Depression is one of the most common medical conditions afflicting nearly one in 10 Americans are depressed at least occasionally. The condition is twice as common among women as men and the treatment options are often limited and prescription anti-depressants have a lot of unwanted side effects, including weight gain. Research in the past several years is showing that what we eat and our lifestyle factors that are within our control may play a role in our risk for becoming clinically depressed.
In previous published studies, diets rich in foods like desserts, fried foods, processed meats, packaged foods, refined grains, alcohol and many other less nutritious options are generally associated with increased risk for depression. A new study recently published adds to the growing evidence that certain foods, especially those that are diet wreckers, aren’t good for our mental outlook.
Researchers in Spain followed the diets and subsequent diagnoses of depression among nearly 9,000 Spanish adults for an average of six years. The results of their study, published in the current issue of Public Health Nutrition, found that those who reported eating the most fast food like burgers, dogs and pizza were 36% more likely to develop clinical depression compared to those who reported eating the least amount of fast food.
They’re no studies that prove eating specific foods, like doughnuts or Little Debbie’s, causes depression. It could be that people prone to becoming depressed are more likely to seek comfort through unhealthy foods. Although we’ve written about this before, food is about the worst therapist ever. If food is your therapist, fire her!
These results demonstrate an association between the dietary intakes of magnesium, folate and zinc and depressive illnesses, although reverse causality and/or confounding cannot be ruled out as explanations.
There is mounting evidence that suggests omega 3 fatty acids may play a role in reducing risk for depression. Other nutrients that may play a role include B-vitamins, magnesium and zinc.
A general Rx for a mood-boosting diet includes eating primarily a plant-based diet, eat fish or seafood regularly for omega 3s (or take a daily DHA/EPA supplement), and eat only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight. A Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce your risk for depression.
For more ways to feed your brain, read this.