By April McCarthy via Prevent Disease, 9 March 2016
Everyone experiences some unhappiness, often as a result of a change, either in the form of a setback or a loss, or simply, as Freud said, “everyday misery.” The painful feelings that accompany these events are usually appropriate, necessary, and transitory, and can even present an opportunity for personal growth. However, when depression persists and impairs daily life, it may be an indication of a depressive disorder which is highly correlated with diet.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners cause wide-spread nervous system depression with just one dose. They block the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and cause mood dips, headaches, and insomnia. Using artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose actually throw off the body’s ability to monitor how many calories we consume. They are 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Besides depression, research has shown very serious long-term health consequences due to highly toxic additives and artificial sweeteners such as sodium benzoate, acesulfame potassium, sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup.
Sugar addiction is attributed to the quick energy created by increase blood glucose levels. However, every high has an equal or greater low once these glucose levels retreat, which brings depression, lethargy and creates the cycle of low self-esteem. The elevated blood glucose levels catalyze the absorption of tryptophan through the large neutral amino acid (LNAA) complex and its subsequent conversion into the mood-elevating chemical serotonin. Several studies have shown the devastating link between sugar consumption and mental illness, as well. In 2004, the British Journal of Psychiatry found that a higher dietary intake of refined sugar and dairy products lead to a worse 2-year outcome for subjects suffering from mental illness.
3. Processed Foods
British researchers published in the British Journal of Psychiatry that processed foods increase the risk of developing depression and autoimmune disease because they contain harmful chemicals that affect the incidence of cardiovascular disease and inflammation. These include processed meats, sausages, chocolate and sugary desserts. Consuming refined or processed carbohydrates, such as white bread, cereal, pasta, or snack foods cause the same impact on your blood sugar levels as eating a basket of jelly beans. Bagels are processed the same way donuts are. After the initial insulin boost, it causes the body to go into a depressive state fatigued, irritated, and blue.
4. Fried Foods
The American Journal of Psychiatry published a study covering women aged 20-93. Those who ate a more “westernized” diet with fried foods, had a higher chance of developing these mental issues. Combining poor food choice with unhealthy cooking processes makes fried food especially troubling for people with depression or panic. The parts of the brain that regulate mood and stress response cannot operate optimally when deprived of neurotransmitters, oxygen, enzymes, nutrients and other chemicals that are carried by blood into the brain.
5. Refined Cereals
The consumption of these foods including refined flours increase the likelihood of depression, according to a study by the University of London. Researchers reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2009 that a processed foods dietary pattern–one that is rich in refined cereals and flours is a risk factor for depression in middle-aged people, compared with a whole foods pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables and fish.
6. Hydrogenated Oils
Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. It is found in many other foods besides margarine and shortening, however, including fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. Anything that is cooked with hydrogenated oils and contains trans fats could potentially contribute to depression. Those who take in the most trans fats have up to a 48% increased risk of depression. The biological changes that occur with high consumption of ”trans” fats may explain both the heart disease and depression link. They also cause inflammatory changes, and these changes have also been linked with depression.
Not only is alcohol is a Class A1 carcinogen exceeding moderate consumption triggers depression, as it interferes with the nervous system receptors. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Your central nervous system is responsible for taking in information through the senses, controlling motor function, as well as thinking, understanding, and reasoning. It also controls emotion. Alcohol slows all this down, exacerbating symptoms associated with depression. The National Comorbidity Study found that men with alcohol dependence had rates of depression three times higher than the general population.
This comes as a shock to many, but according to many experts, even a modest amount of caffeine can contribute to depression and anxiety. Caffeine disrupts sleep, making it more difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep; those disturbances affect mood. It can cause agitation, tremors, and nervousness. Energy drinks, particularly, are bad news as some of them contain the caffeine equivalent of 14 cans of soda. Stopping abruptly can worsen depression. If you regularly drink caffeinated beverages, quitting can cause a depressed mood until your body adjusts. It can also cause other signs and symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and irritability.