foods that cause depression
The human body is an incredibly complex system, with an intricate web of physical and psychological connections. It is therefore not surprising that there is mounting evidence to suggest that certain diets can have an impact on our mental health, in particular, our disposition towards depression. So can diets cause depression? Let’s take a closer look.
The most obvious correlation between diet and mental health is when nutrition deficiencies are present. Low levels of essential vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, zinc and B vitamins, can have a major impact on our brain health and psychological regulation. A lack of these micronutrients can lead to neurotransmitter imbalances and deficiencies, resulting in feelings of low mood and depression.
This can occur as a result of inadequate dietary intake, but a lack of access to these essential nutrients can also arise due to other factors. For example, gastric conditions such as Crohn’s Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome can negatively affect our ability to absorb these necessary components from food.
The Timing of Meals
Another major contributor to the potential for diets to cause depression relates to meal timing. Our body regulates the hormones responsible for appetite, mood and energy levels in accordance with a pattern known as circadian rhythm. When we eat at the wrong times or miss meals, this homeostasis is thrown off balance, causing disruption to our cognitive and emotional processes.
In particular, a disruption to this pattern affects the hormonesMelatonin and Serotonin. Melatonin helps to regulate sleep-wake cycle, whilst Serotonin is involved in regulating mood and emotional balance. By carefully monitoring meal timing and avoiding drastic changes to the time of day we eat, we can reduce the risk of diet-induced depression.
The Impact of Processed Foods
Processed foods are abundant in our modern diet, but they are often low in nutrition and high in unhealthy fats and sugars. The impact of consuming unhealthy food can range from weight gain to low mood and even depression. Over time, a processed food diet depletes energy levels and increases cellular inflammation, leading to chronic fatigue and low self-esteem.
There are also several toxins and chemicals contained within processed food that can negatively impact on our mental health. Particular flavoring substances, such as artificial sweeteners, have been linked to depression. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical commonly used in food packaging, which has been shown to cause inflammation to both the body and the brain.
It is clear that certain diets can cause depression. Nutrition deficiencies, poor meal timing and excessive processed food consumption can all take their toll on our mental health, leading to reduced cognitive functioning and an increased risk of low mood and depression. Ultimately, it is important to focus on eating whole foods, reducing toxin exposure and striking a balance between when and how we consume our meals.