Depressed? Check What You Eat!

June 19, 2019



We have an epidemic of depression and anxiety in this country.  Depression could be caused by multiple factors, like your genes, your stress level, your environment, busy lifestyle, stressful events in life, your medications, etc.  But have you ever thought about how food affects your mood?


Let's look at the staples of our Standard American Diet:

Doughnuts, and other sugary foods release the "feel-good" brain stimulating molecules, like serotonin and dopamine which can make you "high and happy", but last only a few hours, and then the level drops dramatically and you crash and feel down, depressed.


Soft drinks also have a high level of sugar, as well as other chemicals that can adversely affect your brain. [1]


Fried chicken, other fried/processed meats and refined grains that are made with hydrogenated or trans fats are linked to the development of depression, especially with long-term consumption. [2]


Potato and corn chips also rich in trans fats, which fuel inflammation in your vessels and brain, causing depressed mood. [3]


Cookies and crackers made with white flour and sugar are nutrient-poor, low-fiber food products that are made with refined oils, like corn oil, are also associated with brain inflammation and malnutrition.


Any food and lifestyle factors that lead to insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia (high bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) have been linked to depression and neoro-cognitive decline with decrease in memory, and eventual development of dementia due to a unique pathway in the brain. [4], [5]


And recent studies found that eating a diet that contains foods, which are known to promote inflammation – such as those high in processed food, saturated fats and carbohydrates – makes you around 40% more likely to develop depression.


There are plenty of healthy alternatives that will satisfy your taste, and make you happy.

An anti-inflammatory diet—containing more fiber, vitamins (especially A, C, D) and unsaturated fats—has the opposite effect, and could be implemented as a treatment for depression.  Mediterranean diet of olive oil, tomatoes, green vegetables and fatty fish could help lower depressive symptoms. [6]


For more information on a healthy lifestyle, please schedule an appointment with Dr.  Koganski at 215-750-7000 or



[1] Gangwisch, JE, et al. High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition .Volume 102, Issue 2, August 2015, Pages 454–463,

[2] Akbaraly, T., et al. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. British Journal of Psychiatry, 195(5), 408-413. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.058925

[3] Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, et al. Dietary Fat Intake and the Risk of Depression: The SUN Project . PLoS ONE 6(1): e16268.

[4] Faith, M. S., Matz, P. E. & Jorge, M. A. Obesity-depression associations in the population. J. Psychosom. Res. 53, 935–942 (2002).

[5] Vagena E, et al. A high-fat diet promotes depression-like behavior in mice by suppressing hypothelemic PKA signaling. Translational Psychiatry 9, Article number: 141(2019.

[6] Katie Tolkien et al. An anti-inflammatory diet as a potential intervention for depressive disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Clinical Nutrition (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2018.11.007

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