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Study Links Too Much Junk Food with Depression

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A new study recently published in the journal Public Health Nutrition has determined that people who regularly consume a lot of junk food, stand a greater risk of developing depression.

The study by researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada involved approximately 9,000 participants over a period of about 6 years.

The researchers asked the study participants to record how often they consumed certain foods. For example, the researchers were interested in finding out how often foods like fruits and vegetables, assorted baked goods (such as donuts, muffins, croissants), sweets, fast foods (including hot dogs, pizza, burgers and fries), and various other food items were being eaten on a daily basis.

None of the participants had depression at the outset but then...

None of the participants had a diagnosis of depression at the beginning of the study. However, by the time the study had finished 6 years later, almost 500 of the original 9,000 participants had received a diagnosis of clinical depression.

Of particular interest was the fact that those participants who recorded eating the most junk food (namely fast foods such as burgers and fries and other commercial baked goods) were actually 51percent more likely to develop clinical depression compared to those participants who ate the least amount of junk food.

It is believed that consuming foods that are high in sugar, sodium, or fat triggers the release of neurotransmitters in the brain; hormones such as serotonin and dopamine that are responsible for generating feelings of pleasure. However, the quick release of these “feel good” brain chemicals cannot be sustained, and shortly after consuming junk food, most people experience a “crash”.

This study goes one step further by linking too much junk food with an increased risk of developing clinical depression; a potentially harmful side effect of a diet that prompts brain chemicals to elicit pleasurable highs followed by crushing lows.

Source: CBS News