According to a new research, a diet rich in refined carbohydrates such as rice and white bread might increase a post-menopausal woman’s chances of developing depression.
Dr. James Gangwisch of Columbia University Medical Center’s department of psychiatry and his colleagues reviewed depression data, dietary glycemic load, and dietary glycemic index (amount of sugar found in one’s blood after eating) of over 70,000 post-menopausal women. They also checked the types of carb consumed by these women.
The facts and figures reviewed by Gangwisch and his colleagues were presented by the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study conducted by the National Institute of Health between 1994 and 1998.
These analyses allowed the researchers to discover that the habit of consuming added sugars and refined carbs and high dietary glycemic index (GI) have strong links with an augmented risk of depression among post-menopausal women. It was also found that women who ate more dietary fiber, dairy, whole grains, fruits (instead of fruit juices), and vegetables had much less chances of developing depression.
Carbs tend to increase our blood sugar levels. The more refined will be a carb, the higher will be its score on the GI. According to the researchers, refined foods like soda, white rice, and white bread trigger a hormonal response in our body for reducing blood sugar levels. This response, according to them, might also worsen or cause symptoms of depression such as fatigue mood swings, etc.
Excessive consumption of sugars and refined starches can also act as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and inflammation, conditions that have links with depression.
It’s true that this new study is just observational, but it cannot be denied that the findings of the study have opened up possibilities of treating or preventing depression through dietary interventions. Researchers conducting the study are saying that there’s need of additional research for finding out whether it is possible to replicate similar results in a bigger population.
Gangwisch said that although this study focused only on post-menopausal women, the conceived mechanisms by means of which diets rich in refined carbs cause depression will apply even to other populations. He is hoping that the findings of this study will spur further research on other populations such as younger men and women.