We all know that eating ultraprocessed food can make you overweight, but did you know it can actually make you depressed 😞? A large study from Harvard Medical School was just published in JAMA this month! This was a large cohort study on over 31,000 women age 42-62. After following these women for 14 years, they concluded that the participants with a higher intake of ultraprocessed food had an increased risk of depression! This was based on symptoms reported on questionnaires as well as new antidepressant use 💊.
Sadly, the Standard American Diet 🍟 is loaded in ultraprocessed foods due to convenience and palatability. The study looked at the following categories of food: ultraprocessed grain foods, sweet snacks 🍬, ready-to-eat meals🍜, fats and sauces, ultraprocessed dairy products, savory snacks, processed meat 🌭, beverages 🥤, and artificial sweeteners. Can you guess which category was the worst for mood?
It turns out that artificial sweeteners and artificially sweetened beverages were associated with the greatest risk of depression.
This is no surprise as ultraprocessed foods negatively impact our gut microbiome. They cause inflammation in the lining of our gut and feed bad bacteria 🦠 and yeast to overgrow (dysbiosis). We make 80% of our serotonin (happy brain neurotransmitter 😃) in the lining of our gut, which is why we refer to the gut as the second brain 🧠. If our gut is unhealthy, so is our mood.
The good news is that by cleaning up our diet and eating more phytonutrient-rich plant foods 🫐, we can restore a healthy gut microbiome and see a positive change in our mood!
Rajsree Nambudripad, MD