Your daily dietary choices may be upping your risk of depression by more than 40 percent, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a long-term analysis of the eating habits and subsequent mental health of 43,000 women. Those who regularly ate certain foods—specifically, refined grains, red meat and soda—saw their chances of being diagnosed with depression increase by anywhere from 29 to 41 percent.
Study authors believe the findings highlight the connection between diet and depression, which lies (at least partially) in the inflammation caused by an out-of-control immune response.
Prior research has linked low-grade inflammation with depression and other mental disorders, but the precise biological mechanics of the link aren’t completely clear, according to study co-author, Michel Lucas, Ph.D.
Foods to Fight Inflammation
One thing that is clear is that the right diet can do wonders for your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
While there are countless iterations of the “anti-inflammatory diet,” most follow a general set of guidelines:
- Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, etc.) are better alternatives to refined carbohydrates, such as white rice and pasta made with white flour.
- You can never eat too many organic fruits and veggies.
- Protein is best consumed in the form of fish, chicken, beans and nuts. Consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy products should be minimized.
- Though it may seem counterintuitive, strong spices including cayenne, curry, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and turmeric all have anti-inflammatory properties.
A different study done by Lucas also found that women who consumed four or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day had a 20 percent lower risk of developing depression than those who drank less.
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