If you’re nursing your depression with comfort food, beware: that ice cream might be making your depression worse.
A new study released last week analyzed the link between development of depression and dietary habits. The researchers enrolled over 12,000 college graduates – none of whom suffered from depression at the beginning of the study - and recorded their habits. They noted the graduates’ levels of consumption of various fats, including trans fats, present in many processed foods and other dietary fats, such as olive oils or other sources. The study participants were tracked for six years, reporting any new incidents of depression or medication for depression.
The study results were surprising: the risk of developing depression rose significantly as the levels of trans fat intake rose. Those with the highest levels of trans fat intake had a 42% increased risk of depression; those with the lowest trans fat intake levels had barely any increased risk.
This study took place in Spain, where most dietary intake of trans fats is from milk or cheese. The American diet contains four to five times the levels of trans fat of the average Spanish diet, with such delicious goodies including cookies, crackers, french fries, donuts and other foods made or fried with vegetable oils common in American diets.
While this type of study does not conclusively prove a link between trans fat intake and depression, the numbers are hard to ignore. Trans fats are already major culprits in heart disease and other health issues; it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to discover they have an impact on our mental health as well.
So next time you’re feeling down, reach for a frozen banana instead of the ice cream; go for a walk instead of reaching for the french fries. Your mind – and your body – will thank you.
By lucianvenutian [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons