A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders has found an association between a highly inflammatory diet and an increased risk of depression.
The researchers note that their findings will have an impact on public health, as it is an indication that a controlled diet can potentially help people with depression or prevent the disease in the first place.
Participants included 30,627 people from the United States surveyed in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a study program designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States from 2007 to 2018.
The study aimed to evaluate the relationship between the dietary inflammatory index (DII), a scoring algorithm designed to predict how diet affects inflammation in the body and consequent health outcomes, and a cross-sectional study of NHANES.
Participants were asked what foods they consumed as a diet and were given a score based on inflammation in their diet and were also graded for depression.
Based on these data, the researchers found what is called a J-shaped relationship, which according to the academics is defined as a nonlinear relationship between the two variables, which initially appears as a falling curve but then rising. The starting point between DII and depression.
That is, at a certain point the amount of inflammation in the body seemed to exceed the body’s capacity.
Then, as the J-shape shows, it was found that higher inflammation in the participants’ body began to be associated with a significantly higher risk of depression for the participants.
This J-shaped association showed a positive association between depression and inflammation, which remained intact even after researchers adjusted for factors such as demographics, lifestyle habits, disease, body mass index (BMI) and C-Reactive Protein (CRP). This is the level of a certain protein your liver produces and occurs if the body inflammation is too high.
This confirmed the association of elevated inflammation and depression in US adults, according to the study authors.
Studies have linked high intake of inflammatory foods such as sugar and fat and low intake of fruits and vegetables with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and coronary heart disease.
Meanwhile, other research has shown that the Mediterranean diet, a low-inflammatory diet high in vegetables and fruit, more seafood than meat, and other high-healthy-fat foods like olive oil, can actually help prevent or cure it. chronic diseases.
And while past studies have found that many chronic diseases can actually get worse as a result of chronic inflammation in the body, known as a prolonged, slow inflammation that lasts from a few months to years, depression can also worsen. This is chronic inflammation.
According to the World Health Organization, around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and this rate is increasing every year.
In Canada alone, an estimated one in four Canadians struggles with depression severe enough to require treatment at some point in their lifetime.
According to Harvard Medical School, some high-inflammatory foods to avoid or limit include: refined carbohydrates, french fries or other fried foods, pop and other sugary drinks, red meat, processed meat, margarine, shortening, and lard.
Nutrient-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, tomatoes, olive oil, oily fish and fruits should be consumed as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
The researchers write that these findings have important implications for clinical practice and public health, as diet is a modifiable factor. Therefore, by choosing an anti-inflammatory diet or restricting pro-inflammatory foods, depression can be reduced and prevented, the researchers note.