A diet bad for your waistline could be bad for your mental health, researchers find. Refined sugars and starches were associated with depression in post menopausal women in a large study called the Women's Health Initiative. Refined sugars and starches can be found in commercial breakfast cereals, bread, cookies, cakes, candies, muffins, protein and energy bars, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juice, sports gels, grain and potato products, pizza, chips, and more.
Researchers said sugars and starches (refined carbohydrates) such as are found in white bread, white rice and sugary drinks trigger a hormonal response in the body that lead to a sugar "crash", a steep decline in blood sugar levels, causing or worsening mood changes, fatigue and other symptoms of depression.
[I would like to add that other research shows whole wheat bread is even more likely to cause sugar crashes than white bread; typical brown rice and starchy/sugary gluten free products also lead to crashes. Don't be fooled by the phrase "no sugar added". If it is made of starch, or naturally sugary like fruit juice, to your body it's sugar (glucose). Whether or not it is sweetened your body perceives starches as sugars. Think of a loaf of bread as a bag of sugar; a carton of orange juice as a carton of sugary drink; a bowl of cereal as a bowl of sugar, a cup of fat free skim milk as a milk sugar drink, etc.]
The reports go on to note that high consumption of refined starches and sugars is a known risk factor for inflammation and cardiovascular disease, conditions also thought to cause or worsen depression.
"Although our study only included post-menopausal women, the theorized mechanisms by which a diet high in refined carbohydrates could lead to depression would apply to other populations as well," Gangwisch told CBS News in an email. There is a high likelihood these populations include you and me ;)
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but since I've already gone there, here's my recommendation: If you are depressed, or if you don't want to be, take this news seriously and make dietary changes today. Reject those yummy delicious processed and refined carbohydrates and sugars you crave so much. Substitute them with carbohydrates from whole foods, fresh vegetables, berries and more, found on the perimeter of most grocery stores. Eat well sourced meats, fish, eggs, poultry, shell fish, real pastured butter or ghee, and other fresh foods, fats included. Your cravings will diminish, and your brain will thank you.
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