It’s not hard to grasp the connection between the foods we eat and our physical well-being. It stands to reason that a healthy body thrives on healthy food. However, we may not understand that what we eat also affects our psychological well-being. In particular, researchers have found a direct link between nutrition and depression. In fact, a whole new science, called nutritional psychiatry, has evolved to examine the correlation between food and mood.
Depression is a common but serious condition that affects more than 16 million Americans.Tweet this out
Persistent depressive disorder: also called dysthymia ordouble depression, shares many of the same features as major depression, but is often less severe.
A study of nearly 3,500 adults from six industrialized nations, including the United States and Canada, showed those who ate a diet high in processed foods had a 58 percent increase in depression risk. In comparison, those who ate a diet rich in whole foods showed a 26 percent decrease in the risk for depression. Another study, of more than 70,000 postmenopausal women, showed an increase in new-onset depression that strongly correlated to proportionally higher intake of refined sugars and grains.
Another downside to eating sugary foods is that they have a negative nutritional value. That is, not only are processed sugars full of empty calories, they also deplete the body’s stores of chromium and B vitamins, which can lead to depression and dementia.
The upshot is that when we eat better, we feel better. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and seafood, while lowering our intake of refined sugars, refined grains, and processed foods can dramatically boost our emotional well-being.