Moderate Your Intake Of Those Yummy French Fries: Here Are Foods That Increase Your Risk Of Depression And Affect Your Mood
A poor diet can make you feel bloated, sluggish, or lethargic. Not only can it affect your physical health, but your mental health as well. A recent study published by the St Louis School of Medicine in Washington, USA, found that a diet with high consumption of fried foods increased anxiety and depression. This could be because fried foods contain a contaminant known as acrylamide.
This compound forms naturally from some starches cooking at extremely high temperatures. Research shows it can be a potential human carcinogen. However, acrylamide affects mental health by triggering neuroinflammation and disturbing lipid metabolism.
How does food affect mood?
Dietary patterns have a direct effect on your mental well-being. Studies show that fried foods cause inflammation which increases depressive symptoms. Eating too many fried foods produces compounds that directly damage brain tissue.
The inflammation also reduces the release of dopamine and blunts the areas of the brain linked with reward. Fried foods also lack fibre and polyphenols, which directly affect gut health. A lack of nutrients that feed gut bacteria causes a breakdown in gut-brain communication. Serotonin is directly made in the gut, and imbalance in the gut microbiome reduces the production of neurotransmitters.
Fried foods also affect lipid metabolism. Lipid composition in the brain influences how it functions. Neurons directly impact brain communication. When this communication is interrupted, you display anxiety and depression symptoms.
Foods that increase the risk of depression
Excessive consumption of fried foods like French fries directly affects mental health. Poor eating habits can lead to sadness, lack of energy, irritability, and insomnia. To remain healthy, you must be reasonably physically active and have a balanced diet. But some of the foods that you are warned away from are the ones that appear to give some joy. However, these foods should be best taken in moderation.
A glass of red wine in the evening can make you feel relaxed after a long day. When you feel low, you may also use alcohol for self-medicating. When the drunken haze dissipates, you feel worse than before. This creates a cycle of low feelings. This is because alcohol is a depressant. It interferes with the process of emotions. It also increases instances of insomnia.
Read also: Functional Alcoholism: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
2. Refined grains
Eating rice and wheat is a healthier option than fried foods. However, refining them loses a lot of nutrients. Studies show that refined grains increase the risk of new-onset depression in postmenopausal women. In addition, further research shows that people who have a diet rich in unrefined grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, showed a lower risk of depressive symptoms.
Read also: Healthy Bread Alternatives That You Should Try
Eating too much salt is known to affect blood pressure and cardiovascular health. But salt can also affect mental health. Salt affects gut health and reduces blood flow to the brain. This can lead to depression and lower brain function. Reducing how much salt you put in your food can improve your mental health.
Read also: Here Are Reasons Why You Need Ditch The Salt. See How This Can Save Your Life
4. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame can seem like a better option than refined sugar. But they have also been linked with depression. Studies show that sweeteners in drinks increase the risk of depression. Aspartame, particularly, increases depression and irritability among people who use it. This is because it causes an imbalance in neurotransmitters like serotonin and increases cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Using unrefined sugars like honey or stevia as a sweetener is better.
Read also: Health: 8 Benefits Of Honey You Should Know About
5. Caffeine and energy drinks
Caffeine is a stimulant in coffee, green tea, and energy drinks. However, caffeine can affect people who have depression. This is because caffeine causes sleep disruption, which increases depressive symptoms. Studies show that energy drinks cause higher levels of stress and increased symptoms of depression in men. Green tea or dark chocolate is a better option for that energy boost.
Read also: Reasons You Need To Reduce Your Caffeine Intake And How To Do So
Processed meats like sausages, ham, or salami are great for sandwiches and other quick and easy meals. However, studies show that red meat and processed meats can increase the risk of depression and lower moods. Foods like burgers have higher saturated and trans fats, which increases inflammation and affects mental health. Using grilled chicken or poached fish is a healthier option for sandwiches. Eggs, tuna, and avocado are also healthier substitutes.
What can make a difference?
Reducing how often you eat fried foods improves your physical and mental health. But changing how you cook can change your outlook a great deal. Instead of dry, high-temperature frying, you can poach, stew, steam, boil or use an oven or air-fryer. Replacing oils and cooking fats that are rich in trans fats, such as vegetable oil for avocado oil or olive oil, can also improve your diet.
Add more nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains to increase the nutritional value of your meals. Cooking with spices also improves gut health and reduces inflammation.
Read also: 11 Health Benefits Of Green Tea
If you are already eating too many processed foods, stopping cold turkey is less likely to be successful. Gradually create better eating habits by, for example, ordering a side of salad or mashed potatoes rather than French fries. Taking herbal tea is also healthier than coffee. These foods can provide a burst of pleasure when you eat them, but they cause more damage to your health in the long term.
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