A diet of ‘inflammatory foods’ is linked to a 40% higher risk of depression, new research concludes.
Common inflammatory foods include fast food, cake and processed meats.
These all have high levels of saturated fats, cholesterol and carbohydrate.
Fast foods and the like cause excess inflammation in the body, which is linked to depression.
An anti-inflammatory diet includes more vitamins, fibre and unsaturated fats.
The Mediterranean diet, containing tomatoes, green vegetables, olive oil and fatty fish is anti-inflammatory.
The conclusions come a review of 11 separate studies that included over 100,000 people living in the US, Australia and Europe.
Everyone reported how inflammatory their diet was, as well as any depression symptoms.
The results showed that people eating ‘pro-inflammatory’ diets had a 40% higher risk of developing depression or depressive symptoms.
The same was true for young and old.
Inflammation is how the body protects itself against toxins.
However, brain cells are killed when the body remains in a constant state of high alert, while fighting toxins.
Dr Steven Bradburn, study co-author, said:
“These results have tremendous clinical potential for the treatment of depression, and if it holds true, other diseases such as Alzheimer’s which also have an underlying inflammatory component.
Simply changing what we eat may be a cheaper alternative to pharmacological interventions, which often come with side-effects.
This work builds on recent advances in the field by others, including the first ever clinical trial into dietary interventions for treating depression, which have shown beneficial improvements in depressive symptoms.
It should be stressed, however, that our findings are an association, rather than causality.
Further work is needed to confirm the efficacy of modulating dietary patterns in treating depression with relation to inflammation.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (Tolkein et al., 2018).