Diet and depression: Your love for fast food could make you depressed!

Diet and depression: Your love for fast food could make you depressed!

Your diet habits are closely linked to depression. Simply put, bad diet habits, such as consumption of fast food, can put you at an increased risk of depression. A JCU research team led by Professors Zoltan Sarnyai and Robyn McDermott looked at the link between depression and diet on a Torres Strait island, where fast food is available, and on a more isolated island, which has no fast food outlets. According to Dr Maximus Berger, the lead author of the study, the team interviewed about 100 people on both islands and asked them about their diet, screened them for their levels of depression and took blood samples.People on the more isolated island with no fast food outlets reported significantly higher seafood consumption and lower take-away food consumption compared with people on the other island.

The researchers then identified nineteen people as having moderate to severe depressive symptoms: sixteen were from the island where fast food is readily available, but only three from the other island. The researchers also observed that people with major depressive symptoms were both younger and had higher take-away food consumption. The level of the fatty acid associated with depression and found in many take-away foods was higher in people living on the island with ready access to fast food, the level of the fatty acid associated with protection against depression and found in seafood was higher on the other island, according to Dr Berger.

A news release quoted the researcher as saying that contemporary Western diets had an abundance of the depression-linked fatty acid (n-6 PUFA) and a relative lack of the depression-fighting fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA). Another professor related to the study, Professor Sarnyai, said that depression affects about one in seven people at some point in their lives and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are disproportionately affected by psychological distress and mental ill-health compared with the general population.

He suggested that a diet that is rich in n-3 LCPUFA as provided by seafood and low in n-6 PUFA as found in many take-away foods may be beneficial to prevent depression. Professor Sarnyai said with the currently available data it was premature to conclude that diet can have a lasting impact on depression risk but called for more effort to be put into providing access to healthy food in rural and remote communities.

With inputs from
James Cook University Australia press release

Published: October 11, 2018 9:01 am | Updated:October 11, 2018 9:06 am