Sometimes we can feel the blahs, whether we’re just a bit tired, haven’t stuck to that exercise routine or have temporarily strayed away from healthy eating. We typically come right out of it and get back to our usual extraordinary selves. For some, however, what they eat and drink can keep them in a gloomy state of mind and can even lead to full-blown depression.
That’s right. A newer study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity says that certain foods can pave the way to clinical depression. Here’s how it went. Researchers tracked the diet habits and health results of more than 43,000 women—none of whom had depression at the outset of the study—for 12 years. The scientists observed that, after those 12 years, women who drank soft drinks, ate fatty red meat or consumed refined grains such as pasta, white bread, crackers and chips were 29 to 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed and treated for depression than the women who adhered to a healthier diet.
The study revealed even more. Blood tests of the women who ate those “depressing” foods indicated significantly higher for three biomarkers of inflammation. And, of course, healthy levels of inflammation are necessary for our bodies to fight off injuries and more, but over-the-top inflammation levels have the opposite effect. In fact, unhealthy levels of inflammation are linked heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other unwanted health-altering outcomes.
This particular study is the most complete to date, among other studies, linking one’s diet to inflammation and depression. The study’s co-author, Michel Lucas, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health says that it’s not evident exactly how inflammation and depression are linked, since the physical or mental origins of depression are not fully determined. However, he notes that evidence is growing that certain foods increase both inflammation and depression risks, while other foods seemingly have the opposite effects.
Some of the foods and beverages that, if consumed daily, can help reduce inflammation and the risk for depression, according to Dr. Lucas’ research, include olive oil; veggies such as leafy greens, sweet potatoes and carrots; coffee and even wine (in moderation, of course). Likewise, a Mediterranean-type diet heavy in olive oil (as mentioned) and fish and vegetables has also been linked to lower rates of depression.
Be smart. Eat foods that will help you avoid the blues or depression.