From 1960 till now, the food industry has changed a lot the way we eat. Now we understand how these changes have impacted physical health, but their effect on mental health is only now being understood.
Powerful companies has successfully created and marketed food products that have addictive properties. These highly-processed snacks and fast food products are full of fat and sugar, and have displaced much of the fruit, vegetables and other nutritious, unprocessed foods in our diets. It is these unhealthy foods that can be contributing to poor mental health.
There is lot studies from Norway, Spain, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia show people whose diets are healthier are less likely to experience depression. Research also shows that people who eat more unhealthy and junk foods are at increased risk of depression.
Risk factors for dementia are high cholesterol, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugar and high BMI. Also they are clearly influenced by dietary habits. However, healthy dietary patterns like the Mediterranean diet help protect against dementia and cognitive decline. A recent European randomized trial showed people who adopted a Mediterranean-style diet as part of the study, experienced better cognition. Although this study wasn’t made to assess depression risk, it showed that it was reduced for people who adopted the Mediterranean diet.
We are noticing that these changes in dietary habits can influence rates of depression and dementia. These changes to one’s diet are particularly obvious in younger people, and help to reduce the risk of mental disorders manifesting in the future.
It’s becoming clear that common physical and mental illnesses are be mutually reinforcing. Obesity increases the risk for depression and dementia, while depression prompts obesity. Risk factors for heart disease are also risk factors for dementia. Heart disease is associated with depression, as worse outcomes face those with heart disease if they’re also depressed. What all this means for general well-being is that improving physical health should have positive benefits for the prevention and treatment of mental disorders.
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