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Relationship Between Fast Food and Depression

November 7, 2019 by

A new study is confirming what has been previously believed, which is that there is a positive relationship between fast food and depression. According to these studies, eating food from fast food restaurants as well as foods that are overly processed or contain a lot of sugar can lead to depression.

Compared to those who eat very little processed and otherwise unhealthy food, people who eat this type of food on a regular basis is 51% more likely to develop depression over the course of their lifetime.

Additionally, it has been found that the more fast food one consumes, the higher the chance is of them developing depression. People who eat the most fast food and processed foods have a higher likelihood of being single, sedentary, and not get the amount of vitamins and minerals that their body needs to function optimally. This group also tends to smoke and work over 45 hours per week.

However, even eating just a little bit of fast food per week is linked to a higher rate of depression. On the other hand, eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in vegetables and vitamins might be linked to feelings of wellbeing. Research has found that high levels of wellbeing have been associated with people who eat more fruits and vegetables. Many studies have focused on the Mediterranean-style diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, nuts, fish, grains, and beans. This healthy diet has been linked to a reduction in the levels of depression reported by study participants. Furthermore, the reduction in depression among participants was sustained for six months after the intervention.

The importance of eating well at an early age has been studied extensively, and many of the findings are reported in a systematic review that was published in 2014. This review found that children and adolescents who ate a diet high in carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy fats had poorer mental health than those who ate a healthy diet.

Studies that have focused directly on depression and fast food have found that there is a 42% increase in one’s risk of developing depression if they also eat fast food on a regular basis. These studies show that the intake of fast food and processed food should be limited due to its implications on both physical and mental health.

Depression currently impacts over 121 million people in the world, making depression one of the principle global causes of early disability. However, there is not much information currently out there regarding the role that one’s diet plays in the development of depressive disorders. Rather, it seems that those who eat poor diets are not getting the nutrition that is needed to play a preventative role in their mental health. The most important vitamins here include B complex, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy fats.

However, there are also some inequalities present in the population that may be a factor in the development of depression and other mental health issues. Furthermore, how these factors work with each other to impact one’s mental health can be complicated and is not fully known. Elements such as poor physical health, living in poverty, and living in deprived communities have been proven to be linked with reduced mental health and overall wellbeing. Both of these social injustice elements have also been found to have a complex relationship with an unhealthy diet.

Poor nutrition can cause physical health issues such as obesity, however, there are also demographic variables that can impact the direction and strength of the relationship with mental health such as the severity of one’s obesity, their socioeconomic status, gender, level of education, age, and ethnicity. Studies have found two-way relationships between poor mental health and obesity, showing that people who are obese have a 55% increased risk of developing mental health issues including depression over time, and those who are experiencing depression have a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. This makes it difficult to recognize which is the triggering factor, or if they both have an equal ability to lead to the other.

To protect your mental health, focus on a diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs, and healthy fats. Getting the nutrition that your body needs is important for both your physical and your mental health.

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