Who would have thought?
Consuming large amounts of ultra-processed food, especially drinks containing artificial sweeteners, is associated with a higher risk of depression, research has found.
Despite extensive data linking ultra-processed food with physical ill health, such as strokes, heart attacks and raised blood pressure, this is the first large study to suggest that consuming ultra-processed foods and drinks, particularly those that include artificial sweeteners, could increase the instance of depression.
Using data from one of the biggest studies of women’s long-term health in the US, researchers at Massachusetts general hospital and Harvard medical school examined the diets and mental health of more than 30,000 primarily white middle-aged women between 2003 and 2017 who did not already have depression.
The authors estimated the overall extent of ultra-processed food intake as well as the type of food, such as ultra-processed grain foods, sweet snacks, ready-to-eat meals, fats and sauces, ultra-processed dairy products, savoury snacks, processed meat, beverages and artificial sweeteners.
They then compared how many women went on to develop depression against their consumption of ultra-processed food. Adjusting for other health, lifestyle and socioeconomic risk factors for depression, the research, published in US journal JAMA Network Open, found that those who consumed nine portions or more of ultra-processed foods a day had a 49% increased risk of depression compared with those who consumed fewer than four portions a day.
In addition, those who reduced their intake of ultra-processed food by at least three servings a day were at lower risk of depression than those with relatively stable intake.
Obviously, these people are fatter, and are going to be losers in general. So it’s not necessarily cause and effect, as there are various factors involved. A study is supposed to control for that, but doesn’t really seem to have.
Regardless: there are a group of good behaviors and a group of bad behaviors. I don’t think anyone who is involved in primarily good behaviors is eating primarily processed foods. I can’t see any point at which those two things would have much overlap.
Bad behaviors lead to feeling bad. Good behaviors lead to feeling better.
There are also good and bad environments which greatly affect the mood.
There is no such thing as “chemical imbalance depression.” More intelligent people are more likely to respond negatively to bad environments, and therefore more likely to feel bad in these environments. Dumber people have it easier. However, dumber people are also less likely to be aware of their bad behaviors. Dumb people are virtually all obese in America, because they legitimately can’t figure it out.
Depression is a specific word with a specific meaning. Probably, no one living in this current reality of the Western world is going to be feeling super great. But you do what you can to feel okay. The first thing there, the starting point, should be making sure your diet and exercise routine is clean.
Just do your best.