According to several researchers, there is an ever increasing body of solid research that shows the strong relationship between what we eat and our mental health.
Many foods and beverages can alter the chemical balance in our bodies and brains, causing fatigue and depression.
Buy organic food, learn how to read nutrition labels, and don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
We’ve listed 10 foods and beverages to avoid that may cause depression.
10) Sugar and Sweets
High and sudden intake of desserts high in sugar such as donuts, pastries, and chocolate can ultimately lead to a state of depression. Large amounts of sugar will produce a sudden rise in glucose levels.
Since the brain depends on a steady supply of glucose, an uneven blood sugar supply contributes to mood fluctuations. Too much or too little blood sugar is associated with aggression, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
9) Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can cause depression when drinking to excess, and can lead to a tolerance which creates the need to increase consumption. When more alcohol is required to obtain the same altered mood state, alcohol’s depressant effect on the body is magnified.
8) Food Additives
MSG, monosodium glutamate, can create low levels of serotonin which can lead to a chemical imbalance in the brain, causing depression. A lack of protein found in beef, poultry, and fish can also cause depression. Tryptophan, found in protein, is an amino acid that produces serotonin. Not eating enough tryptophan decreases serotonin levels, causing depression.
Caffeine found in some sodas, tea and coffee may cause depression. Although there’s no clear link between caffeine intake and depression, there may be an indirect link for people who are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
“Caffeine can cause sleep problems that affect mood, and abruptly stopping caffeine intake can worsen depression. If you regularly drink caffeinated beverages, quitting can cause depression until your body adjusts. It can also cause headaches, fatigue and irritability.”
However, Dr. Honglei Chen, claims coffee drinkers who consumed four or more cups of coffee a day had a 10 percent lower chance of experiencing depression.
“Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” Chen said, adding that “More research is needed to confirm these findings.”
A recent study claims that sweetened beverages, including soda, increases the risk of depression in older adults. And artificial sweeteners have an even worse effect on mood.
“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” study author Dr. Honglei Chen, a researcher with the National Institutes of Health, said in a written statement.
5) Processed Food
Research published in The British Journal of Psychiatry suggests eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression. Data on diet among 3,500 middle-aged civil servants was compared with depression five years later.
Study participants were divided into two diet types: a diet largely based on fruit, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.
“After accounting for factors such as gender, age, education, physical activity, smoking habits and chronic diseases, they found a significant difference in future depression risk with the different diets.
“Those who ate the most whole foods had a 26% lower risk of future depression than those who at the least whole foods. By contrast people with a diet high in processed food had a 58% higher risk of depression than those who ate very few processed foods.”
4) Foods High in Pesticides
The health and fitness website, Livestrong, points out that foods grown with heavy pesticide use can be detrimental to mood and well-being.
“The worst offenders are celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale, potatoes and grapes. The Environmental Working Group suggests if you continue buying these fruits and vegetables, choose organic for the most nutritional benefit and least amount of pesticides.”
3) Foods With Gluten
Depression has, in some cases, been attributable to gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are complicated gastrointestinal disorders known to influence mood.
“Many individuals have gluten sensitivity or gastrointestinal upset with mental health issues that remain undiagnosed, especially when the link is not obvious.”
Removing gluten from your diet can also contribute to depression because of the deep emotional attachment to gluten-filled food. “However, researchers theorize that it’s not simply an emotional attachment, but more of an addiction.”
A study published in Pediatrics indicates preschoolers exposed to high levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in the womb may have more anxiety and depression and have worse self-control than those exposed to lower levels of the chemical before birth.
“The results suggest that these gestational exposures, or the mother’s exposure, are more important than the childhood exposures,” says researcher Joe Braun, MSPH, PhD, research fellow in the department of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
BPA is found in plastic bottles, food packaging, dental sealants, food-can liners, and the heat-activated paper that’s used to print cash register receipts. The packaging for many frozen, processed, and canned foods contains BPA.
And BPA has been found in almost all of the 19 name-brand canned foods tested by Consumer Reports Magazine, including Progresso vegetable soup, Campbell’s condensed chicken noodle soup, and Del Monte Blue Lake cut green beans– the chemical was even found in organic canned foods and canned foods labeled “BPA-free.”
1) Junk Food
Independent researchers have correlated the relationship between junk food and depression, claiming those who regularly eat high fat, processed foods are 60 percent more likely to suffer depression than those who choose whole grains, fruit, vegetables and fish.
Foods high in hydrogenated or trans fat found in junk foods such as chips, crackers, fast food, can also contribute to a person’s depression.
Some critics claim depression is the result of unhealthy oils in food, which can permanently affect the brain’s ability to experience pleasure.