Diet and Depression: New Study Finds Biological LInk
In a study, the first of its kind, the association between diet and depression was analyzed and found that being overweight or obese is linked to both inflammation and mental health conditions.
While an association between being overweight and depression has long been identified, this research focused on a potential biological pathway.
For the study, about 1,600 participants aged 14 years and more than 1,000 participants aged 17 years were surveyed. Three years later, answers to questions on food and nutrition were cross-references with a mental health survey and data on body mass index (BMI) and inflammation.
Study participants were questioned about their dietary pattern over the past year, and their diet was classified as either Healthy or Western. The questionnaire also addressed factors such as social problems, anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms.
In addition to the link between being overweight, inflammation and mental illness, the study found that:
- Stress/trauma in early life could predispose the brain to later neuropathological conditions
- Levels of inflammation could predict ECT outcomes for people who experience depression
- A gluten-free diet may help mitigate neuropathic pain
- The healthy diet pattern, which is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish can protect against depression in teens through the reduction of body mass index and inflammation.
- The “Western” diet pattern, which includes high consumption of red meat and refined foods is linked to an increased risk of depression in teens, probably due to increased body mass and inflammation.
Lead author Professor Wendy Oddy, according to a release from the University of Tasmania:
“Scientific work on the relationship between mental health problems and inflammation is still in its infancy, but this study makes an important contribution to mapping out how what you eat impacts on these relationships.”