Everyone knows that a diet full of white bread, pasta and rice is bad for your waistline. Now scientists say these types of refined carbs could also impact your mind putting post-menopausal women at higher risk for depression.
In a study published in the the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at data from more than 70,000 women who participated in the National Institutes of Health’s women’s health initiative between 1994 and 1998.
They found that the more women consumed added sugars and refined grains and the higher their score on the glycemic index (GI) (a measure of the rate carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed by the body) the more they were at risk of new-onset depression.
Those who had a different sort of diet — one with more dietary fiber, whole grains, vegetables and non-juice fruits — had a decreased risk. This suggests that dietary interventions could serve as treatments and preventive measures for depression.
The researchers explained that refined foods trigger a hormonal response in the body to reduce blood sugar levels. That is believed to lead to the “sugar high” and subsequent “crash” some people say they feel after eating such foods. This can lead to mood changes, fatigue and other symptoms of depression.
In another study from the Harvard School of Public Health published online on October 1, 2013, researchers linked depression to diet, and specifically to certain patterns of eating that foster inflammation in the body. The Harvard researchers reviewed data on more than 43,000 women ages of 50 to 77 who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-running examination of the factors that influence women’s health.
Over the span of 12 years, information was collected that allowed the research team to look at the women’s diets and see how they correlated with a diagnosis of or treatment for depression. The goal was to determine whether a pro-inflammatory diet is associated with depression, which would provide further evidence of a suspected link between low-level chronic inflammation in the body and disturbed emotional health.
The researchers concluded that women who consumed an inflammatory diet of pasta and bread were 29 to 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with or treated for depression than women in the study whose dietary patterns were different.