Eating hamburgers, chocolate and ham can make you depressed, study says.
Junk food won’t just make you overweight. Brazilian scientists say it can also make you depressed. Their study found that depression rates were about 80% higher in those people who ate the most ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are high in added fat, sugar, and salt, low in protein and fiber, and contain artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. The term covers food that contains ingredients that a person would not add when preparing food at home, such as chemicals, dyes and preservatives, writes the Daily Mail.
Focus.Technology has its own Telegram channel. Subscribe to not miss the latest and most interesting news from the world of science!
Ready meals, ice cream, sausages, fried chicken and ketchup are some of the most popular examples. They are different from typical foods that are processed to extend their shelf life or enhance their flavor, such as cured meats, cheese and fresh bread. Ultra-processed foods such as sausages, cereals, biscuits, and sodas are formulations made primarily or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives. They contain little or no unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, and eggs.
Such products usually contain various types of sugar, oils, fats and salt, as well as additives such as preservatives, antioxidants and stabilizers. Ultra-processed foods are often presented as ready-to-eat, taste good, and have low price tags.
Nutritionists divide foods into three groups based on the degree of processing they have gone through.
Photo: Daily Mail
However, leading nutritionists today criticized the results of the study, arguing that it is impossible to truly decipher whether the association of the use of such products with the onset of depression is reliable.
Dr Duane Mellor of Aston University Birmingham said: “Many of the foods this study suggests are associated with depression are not considered regular components of a healthy diet. It is possible that factors associated with depression may also lead a person to not adheres to an ideal diet. Therefore, it cannot be said that ultra-processed foods are associated with depression. The causal chain may be completely different.”
The study surveyed 2,572 graduate and undergraduate students from Brazil about their eating habits and lifestyle. All volunteers were asked to report how often they ate 144 different foods and how large their portions were. In addition to ultra-processed snacks, burgers and chips, it included fruits and vegetables.
Participants were also asked questions about lifestyle and health, including their BMI, whether they smoked or drank alcohol, how many hours they watched TV, whether they had diabetes, and whether they had been diagnosed with clinical depression.
The same questions were asked by the researchers every two years between 2016 and 2020. When the study began in 2016, researchers noted that the prevalence of depression in Brazil was relatively high at 12.8%, compared to almost 5% in other countries, according to the World Health Organization. The study identified 246 cases of depression.
The scientists divided the results into four groups to see if there was a difference between the diets.
Volunteers with the worst diet — those with ultra-processed foods estimated to make up at least 31% of their daily diet — were 82% more likely to be diagnosed in the study. They were compared to people who ate the least of these foods, meaning less than 16 percent of their daily food intake.
But group one volunteers were also more likely to be overweight, live alone, watch more TV, and consume fewer vitamins in their diets. The study was also based on data provided by the participants themselves, which means that some information may not be accurate.
Dr. David Crepaz-Kay of the Mental Health Foundation said: “The relationship between our diet and mental health is complex. The Brazilian study suggests another important piece of the puzzle. What we eat can affect our mood in several ways: directly through brain chemistry, as it affects our sleep, our physical health, and how it makes us feel.Our mind and body need a healthy, balanced diet, and that’s something we can’t get from ultra-processed foods alone.
“Sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks can give us a temporary mood boost, but it’s not for long, and it can also disrupt sleep and have an indirect effect on our mental well-being,” concluded Dr. Krepaz-Kay.
Focus has previously written about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Scientists have found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a higher level of physical fitness.
Leave a Reply