Thursday, November 12, 2015

Carbohydrate Quality and Depression

The Study
Almost 70,000 subjects from the Women’s Health Initiative had their diet and incidence of depression monitored for a period of 3 years. Diet was assessed at baseline by a 145 question food frequency questionnaire. Depression was assessed by means of the Burman 8 Item Scale for Depressive Disorders at baseline and at the end of the three year follow up.

Women with the highest glycemic index had a 22% increased risk of depression when compared to women with the lowest glycemic index. Similarly, women with the highest consumption of added sugars (79.2 grams per day) had a 23% higher risk of depression when compared to women with the lowest consumption of added sugars (17.8 grams per day). In other findings, dietary fiber, fruit, and vegetable consumption were each associated with a lower risk of depression, while refined grain consumption was associated with a higher risk of depression. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 102:454-63.

Take Home Message
For many years, I have noticed that the mood of my clients improves when their blood sugar stabilizes. This investigation is the first well designed research article that backs up this theory up with good hard science.

The authors of this paper listed several possible mechanisms by which a higher glycemic index may increase risk of depression: 1) An increase in body wide inflammation. 2) Increased insulin resistance, which is associated with a pattern of cognitive deficit very similar to depression. 3) Peaks and valleys in blood sugar themselves may increase depression. 4) The counter-regulatory hormones to glucose are released in abundance with a high glycemic diet. They are cortisol, glucagon, epinephrine and growth hormone, and are associated with anxiety and depression. In order to keep a lower dietary glycemic index, choose fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains over refined grains and added sugars.


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