Saturday, May 5, 2012

Junk food increases depression

In the latest study (Public Health Nutrition March 2012 15 : pp 424-432) consumers of fast food were 51% more likely to develop depression compared to those who eat little or none. Even more convincing the study found a dose-response relationship. That is, the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression. The study looked at the consumption of fast food (hamburgers, sausages, pizza) and processed pastries (muffins, doughnuts, croissants) of  8,964 participants with a median follow-up of 6·2 years. In their normal conservative mode the scientists concluded that fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption may have a detrimental effect on depression risk. Not just fast food (take-aways), the study found that even eating small quantities of commercial baked goods was linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression. In an earlier study by the same authors they found a 42% increase in the risk associated with fast food

Depression is a serious and debilitating condition that can affect anyone. It is estimated that around 35% of the population will develop mild to severe depression in their lifetime. Australian Bureau of Statistic indicate that on average one in every five females and one in eight males will experience depression during their lifetime. Moreover, there are around one million of Australian adults and 160000 adolescents who live with depression each year.

Adding to the weight of this study a large number of studies have shown that particular components of the diet such as n-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins as well certain minerals supplements, can decrease the rate of depression.
Many studies have shown Omega-3 fatty acids to significantly reduce depression levels. Countries where there is large fish consumption among the people tend to have a lower rate of depression than societies where fish is not a prominent staple in the diet. Western countries with a low to moderate per capita fish intake of 11-32kg had an annual prevalence of depression in the range of 3-6%.  Countries such as Japan who have a high per capita fish consumption of 68kg had a depression rate of 0.12%. The more omega-3s in your blood, the more serotonin you are likely to make and the more responsive you become to its effects. It also reduces your risk of heart attack, storke and so many other chronic illnesses.

The research consistently shows that people with either low blood levels of the B-vitamins especially folic acid are more likely to be depressed. In a study of hospitalised older people participants who received a normal hospital diet plus multivitamin and mineral supplements for six weeks found lower levels of depression regardless of the initial level of depression of the individual. The authors wrote, “Many epidemiological and case-control studies have shown associations between folate and vitamin B12 deficiency and depression. In a study of 3,500 over-65-year-olds in Chicago over an average of 7.2 years of follow-up, the researchers noted that increased intakes of vitamins from food and supplements B6 and B12 were associated with a ‘decreased likelihood of incident depression.’ For every 10-milligram increase in the intake of vitamin B6 and for every 10-microgram increase in vitamin B12, the risk of developing symptoms of depression was decreased by two percent per year.

A number of studies have found lower levels of zinc and chromium in depressed patients. In one study seven out of the ten depressed patients taking chromium showed a big improvement, versus none on the placebo. A larger study of 113 patients found that after eight weeks 65% of those on chromium had had a major improvement, compared to 33% on placebos

Unfortunately most processed foods are low in nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and the minerals like zinc and chromium.

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