Pro-Inflammatory Diet Associated With Depression Among Women

This week is designated Mental Illness Awareness Week. In addition, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. In recognition, our post today will examine research on the effect of diet upon depression in women.

Data from the NIH from 2017 estimate 11 million U.S. adults had at least one episode of major depression with severe impairment, which represents 4.5% of all U.S. adults. Even more alarming are the statistics on U.S. adolescents aged 12-17 years. For 2017 it is estimated that 3.2 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode, representing 13.3% of the U.S. adolescent population.  

An international research group including researchers from Harvard University, Canada and Germany performed a prospective analysis of the relationship between dietary pattern and risk of depression. The researchers looked at participants from the Nurses Health Study (NHS). The NHS included nearly 122,000 U.S. female registered nurses, who were age 30-55 years at enrollment in the study in 1976. At two year intervals, the participants were asked to provide updated information about their health. The subjects diets were assessed by a food-frequency questionnaire. Inflammatory markers such as c-reactive protein and interleukin-6 were also measured.

The researchers looked at what they termed an “inflammatory dietary pattern” (IDP). The high inflammatory dietary pattern included high intake of such things as diet soft drinks, margarine, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

The researchers discovered that worsening IDP scores were associated with an increased risk of developing depression.

A pro-inflammatory diet has been shown to be associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It should probably be no surprise that a pro-inflammatory diet would also be associated with an increased risk of depression. Given the alarming statistics above regarding depression, particularly among adolescents in the U.S., all potential therapeutic strategies should be considered. Incorporating a diet low in inflammatory foods seems a simple way to lower one’s risk of developing depression.

“If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood go for another walk.”–  Hippocrates

(Source- Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 36 (2014)46-53)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.



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