Processed foods, low-carb diets linked to depression

 

depressed man

(Image credit: Fakeelvis @Flickr)

Three recent studies document that consumption of processed foods increase odds of depression, and not only that, but those high protein, high fat diets (high in animal products) are also linked with more depression. The diet to protect against depression – that is simple, a high nutrient, plant-based diet outlined in my books, Eat for Health and Eat to Live

In one study, middle-aged subjects were categorized by their dietary patterns based on how much “whole” or “processed” food they consumed. The high processed foods group was characterized by high intake of sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products. Five years later, the researchers evaluated how many of the subjects had reported depression symptoms.

Subjects who ate the most whole foods had the lowest odds of depression, and those who ate the most processed foods had the highest odds of depression – 60% increased odds compared to those who ate the least amount of processed foods.1

Another study compared the effects of low-fat plant-based diet and low-carbohydrate animal-product-rich diet on mood in overweight women. Although both groups lost similar amounts of weight over one year, measures of mental health and mood only improved in the low-fat group. The low-carb dieters eating more fat and animal products had higher depression scores. The authors also cited previous human studies in which high protein, low-carbohydrate diets have resulted in cognitive impairment.2

A third study measured scores of depression before and after removing meat, poultry, and fish from subjects normally eating a typical American diet. Indicators of depression significantly decreased after removing all the animal products and shifting to a plant-based diet for 2 weeks. 3

Nutrition is crucial for regulating mood – high oxidative stress in the brain and low levels of several micronutrients have also been linked to depression.4  

These studies are a reminder that what we eat affects not only our physical health but our mental health as well. Combine great diet with light therapy, exercise, sufficient Vitamin D and the right fatty acid balance for the brain, and you have my protocol to beat depression

 

References:

1. Akbaraly TN et al. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;195(5):408-13.

2. Brinkworth et al. Long-term Effects of a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet

and a Low-Fat Diet on Mood and Cognitive Function. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(20):1873-1880

3. Beezhold BL et al. Preliminary evidence that vegetarian diet improves mood. American Public Health Association 2009 National Meeting, Abstract 206464. 

4. Leung BM, Kaplan BJ. Perinatal depression: prevalence, risks, and the nutrition link--a review of the literature. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep;109(9):1566-75.

 

High-Fat Diets Screw Up Physical Performance in Rats!

Poor little lab rats! New findings in the FASEB Journal show consuming a high-fat diet significantly reduces physical endurance—and memory—in rats. After nine days, rats on a high-fat diet could only run half the distance of rats eating a low-fat diet.

On the fifth day of the high-fat diet (the first day back on the treadmill), the rats were already running 30 per cent less far than those remaining on the low-fat diet. By the ninth day, the last of the experiment, they were running 50 per cent less far.

The rats on the high-fat diet were also making mistakes sooner in the maze task, suggesting that their cognitive abilities were also being affected by their diet. The number of correct decisions before making a mistake dropped from over six to an average of 5 to 5.5.

The researchers also investigated what metabolic changes the high-fat diet was inducing in the rats. They found increased levels of a specific protein called the 'uncoupling protein' in the muscle and heart cells of rats on the high-fat diet. This protein 'uncouples' the process of burning food stuffs for energy in the cells, reducing the efficiency of the heart and muscles. This could at least partly explain the reduction in treadmill running seen in the rats.

The rats that were fed a high fat diet and had to run on the treadmill also had a significantly bigger heart after nine days, suggesting the heart had to increase in size to pump more blood around the body and get more oxygen to the muscles.

High-fat diets will jack you up! Back in April, a study showed low-fat diets improve people’s health after weight-loss by improving blood vessel function much better than fatty diets.

Via EurekAlert!

Image credit: Trek Nature

Fad Diets Fail. So Just Eat Less.

Guess what! Fad diets don’t cut it. A new study in yesterday’s New England Journal of Medicine showed gimmick diets, such as high-protein, low-carb and low-fat, aren’t as good as simply cutting calories. The participants, 811 overweight adults, were randomly assigned a diet and each person was encouraged to cut calories, exercise 90 minutes a week, keep a food diary and meet with a nutrition counselor. At the end of the study, no diet came out ahead, people lost an average of 13 pounds over six months, but all groups gained back their weight after a year; the Associated Press reports.

Quick, let’s break it down. Low-carb is bad, too much cancer and heart disease-promoting saturated fat. Plus, a recent study showed low-carb diets make you dopey. High-protein is equally stupid. According to Dr. Fuhrman these fat or meat-centered diets are unquestionably associated with obesity, not weight-loss. And the low-fat diet, as most Americans know it, is what made us all fat in the first place.

Here’s a better choice—coincidently, it jives with the new study—Dr. Fuhrman’s nutrient-dense diet, i.e. lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans, makes it easy to maintain a healthy bodyweight, specifically green veggies. Green vegetables are packed with fiber and low in calories, meaning you can eat lots of them, fill your stomach quickly and still lose weight. How’s that for a sale pitch!

Image credit: Runs With Scissors

Cut Fat, Add Salt?

Salt is unhealthy, it ups hypertension and stroke-risk, but yet, it’s in everything, from bagels to breakfast cereal. And in this video, Dr. Fuhrman’s friend, Jeff Novick MS, RD, LD, LN, explains that after cutting the fat in many foods. Food producers increased the salt, to make it taste better.

And experts at Consumer Reports concur. "Our analysis found that lower-fat products might be higher in sodium. That's in part because when fat is taken out of full-fat foods, sodium is sometimes used to compensate for flavor," Jamie Hirsh, associate health editor, told Reuters.