Ultra-processed foods linked to worse mental health

Credit: Fabrice Thys/Unsplash.

Scientists from Deakin University and elsewhere found the intake of ultra-processed foods is linked to worse mental health.

Ultra-processed foods undergo a multitude of processes including many that couldn’t be recreated in the home, such as hydrogenation, extrusion, molding, and pre-processing for frying.

These foods usually contain few whole foods and may have five or more ingredients, including non-sugar sweeteners, hydrolyzed proteins, hydrogenated oils, and emulsifiers.

Ultra-processed foods are usually packaged attractively and promoted with intensive marketing.

Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, fries, and more.

Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day. When a sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with normal, everyday functioning, you may be depressed.

The exact cause of depression is unknown. It may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Previous research has examined the link between ultra-processed food intake and depression as well as other mental disorders.

In the current study, researchers aimed to review and summarize the contemporary evidence base and clarify the associations between the intake of ultra-processed food and mental diseases.

They included a total of 34 studies that examined more than 380,000 people.

The team found that greater ultra-processed food intake was associated with increased risks of depressive and anxiety symptoms, both when these outcomes were assessed together well as separately.

Furthermore, they demonstrated that greater ultra-processed food intake was linked to an increased risk of subsequent depression.

Based on the findings, the researchers conclude that they found evidence for associations between ultra-processed foods and adverse mental health.

They also suggest that further rigorously designed studies are needed to better understand causal links.

The research was published in Nutrients and conducted by Melissa M Lane et al.

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