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New Study Suggests Eating Highly Processed Foods May Lead to Depression


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A Brazilian study found depression levels were nearly 80 percent higher in people who ate highly processed foods.

These include chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream, cakes and ready meals.

Today, however, leading nutrition experts have criticized the results, saying it’s impossible to truly understand if the relationship is one-way.

Duane Mellor of Aston University Birmingham said: “Many of the foods this study suggests are associated with depression are not regular components of a healthy diet. It is possible that factors associated with depression may also lead to a person not following an optimal diet. Thus, it cannot be argued that ultra-processed foods are associated with depression.”

The study, published in the Journal of Mood Disorders, surveyed 2,572 undergraduate and graduate students from Brazil about their eating habits and lifestyle.

Volunteers were asked to report how often they ate 144 different foods and what their portion sizes were.

In addition to ultra-processed snacks, burgers and chips, they included fruits and vegetables.

Highly processed foods typically contain five or more ingredients and additional chemicals, such as emulsifiers and flavor simulants, that increase the shelf life and taste of foods, but are not necessarily good for you.

Participants were also asked questions about lifestyle and health, including body mass index, whether they smoke or drink alcohol, how many hours they watch TV, whether they have diabetes, and whether they have been diagnosed with clinical depression.

The researchers asked the same questions every two years between 2016 and 2020.

When the study began in 2016, the researchers noted that the prevalence of depression in Brazil was relatively high at 12.8%, compared to a world population of about 5%, according to the World Health Organization.

During the study period, 246 cases of depression were identified.

The researchers divided the results into four groups to see if there was a difference between the diets.

The poorest-nourished volunteers — those who ate highly processed foods thought to make up at least 31% of their daily diet — were 82% more likely to be diagnosed with depression during the study period.

This was compared to people who ate less, or less than 16% of their daily intake.

But the group was also more likely to be overweight, live alone, watch more TV, and consume fewer vitamins in their diet.

The study was also based on data provided by the participants themselves, which means that some information may not be accurate.

Dr. David Krepaz Key of the Mental Health Foundation said: “The relationship between our diet and our mental health is complex. What we eat can affect our mood in many ways: directly through brain chemistry, how it affects our sleep, our physical condition health and the way it makes us think about ourselves Our minds and bodies need a healthy, balanced diet and that’s something we don’t get just from processed superfoods Sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks can give us a temporary boost, but it is short-lived, can disrupt sleep and has an indirect effect on our mental health.”

Source: Daily Mail

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