Refined Carbs May Up Women's Depression Risk

A diet high in refined carbohydrates is associated with a greater risk of new-onset depression in postmenopausal women.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates is associated with a greater risk of new-onset depression in postmenopausal women.

The carbohydrates you eat may be linked to your risk of depression, as a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet high in refined carbohydrates is associated with a greater risk of new-onset depression in postmenopausal women.

Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) reviewed data on over 70,000 postmenopausal women from the National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Initiative Observational Study from 1994–1998 to evaluate a potential connection between dietary glycemic index (GI), glycemic load, types of carbohydrates consumed, and rates of depression.

Consumption of carbohydrates has been shown to increase blood glucose levels to varying degrees; typically, the more refined the greater the reduction in blood glucose which may trigger or exacerbate changes in mood, fatigue, or other symptoms of depression.

Progressively higher dietary GI scores and consumption of added sugars and refined grains were linked to an increased risk of new-onset depression while greater consumption of dietary fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and non-juice fruits were associated with a lower risk. Future research should explore this as a novel approach for prevention and treatment of depression and to replicate these results in the greater population.

Reference

Gangwisch GE, et al. High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women's Health Initiative. 2015; 102(2):454-463.

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