Thursday, January 27, 2011

Junk Food Consumption is Associated with Depression

Which came first, feeling down in the dumps or eating all that ice cream? It could, in reality, be either situation, but new research suggests that poor eating habits may contribute to increasing one's risk of depression.

Spanish researchers followed the eating habits and incidence of depression in over 12,000 Spanish University graduates, at the beginning of the study, were not depressed. After 6 years in the study, 600 people were diagnosed with depression. The researchers reported that the participants who ate the most trans fats had a 48% increased risk of developing depression. Moreover, people who tended to have the worst eating habits also engaged in other unhealthy activities such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition to being overweight, these activities are associated with inflammation within the body, which is associated with depression.

It was found that diets higher in fats, especially trans fats, had the strongest association with the development of depression in the participants, which may be of major significance in the North American population. According to a 2009 report by Health Canada, Canadians consume, an average of about 3.4 grams of trans fat per day, which roughly translates to 1.4% their daily calories. According to the World Health Organization, trans fats should ideally be kept to under 1% of an individual's daily energy intake.

In the study, as it turned out, the most common sources of trans fats were actually cheese and milk, not twinkies, doughnuts or pizza pops. On the flip side of the coin, it was found that participants who followed diets higher in healthy fats like olive oil, with the addition of fish, fruit and vegetables ended up with the lowest risk and incidence of depression. So once again we find that healthy eating is not just good for our physical health, it plays a key role in maintaining our mental health as well.