‘White bread, rice increase depression risk’
Can eating a diet of white bread and rice could increase the risk of depression in older women? Yes! But whole grain foods, roughage and vegetables could reduce it, new research suggests.
Refined foods cause blood sugar levels to spike rapidly – prompting the body to pump out the hormone insulin, which helps break down the sugar. But this process can cause symptoms of depression, according to the study.
The findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, could pave the way for depression being treated and prevented using nutrition.
In a study that included data from more than 70,000 post-menopausal women, scientists found a link between refined carbohydrate consumption and depression.
When people consume carbohydrates their blood sugar levels rise to varying degrees. The glycemic index (GI) scale, of 1-100, measures the amount of sugar found in the blood after eating. The more highly refined the carbohydrate, the higher its score on the GI scale.
Refined foods such as white bread and white rice trigger a hormonal response in the body to reduce blood sugar levels. The response may also cause or exacerbate mood changes, fatigue and other symptoms of depression.
A clear link between high GI scores and consumption of added sugars and refined grains were associated with increased risk of depression in the women. Meanwhile, diets packed with dietary fibre, whole grains and vegetables led to a decreased risk.
The scientists said more research is needed to explore the potential implications for treatment and prevention, and to see whether a similar effect is found among other age groups and men.
Study author Dr. James Gangwisch, of Columbia University, United States, said: “This suggests that dietary interventions could serve as treatments and preventive measures for depression.
“Further study is needed to examine the potential of this novel option for treatment and prevention, and to see if similar results are found in the broader population.”
White refined foods, known as ‘bad carbs’, have also been said to contribute to obesity, low energy levels and insomnia.
Different from their healthier counterparts, white carbs start with flour that has been ground and refined by stripping off the outer layer where fibre is found.
This missing fibre could do wonders for the body, helping reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower blood cholesterol and help people feel fuller for longer. Generally, the more refined the grain-based food, the lower the fibre count.
EATING FRUIT AND VEGETABLES DOES HELP US LIVE LONGER
Eating fruit and vegetables could help older people live longer by improving their immune systems, scientists have found.
Fruit and veg contain antioxidants such as vitamin C which work to keep the thymus – the gland that creates T-cells which help the body fight infections – young.
As humans age the thymus shrinks faster than any other tissue in the body. Its decay puts older people at much greater risk of infection.
Now research has found that antioxidants can keep this vital organ healthy by stopping the damage in its tracks. In tests on mice, those given vitamin C and another antioxidant used in human medicine experienced significantly less age-related deterioration of the thymus.
US lead scientist Dr Howard Petrie, from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, said the research could help older people live longer by improving their immune systems’ ability to fight off life-limiting infections.
He said the findings opened up ‘new avenues for potential treatment strategies that could improve immune defences in the ageing population’.