Many people comfort eat when they are feeling down or depressed, but did you know eating fast food may increase the risk of clinical depression?
Mental health and well-being is essential to our overall health, yet sadly the subject is often surrounded by stigma and many who live with depression suffer in silence.
I spent a number of years battling depression and low self-esteem – although, afraid of the stigma I tried hard to hide it from all but my immediate family and a small number of close friends.
I was talking recently with a friend about my history of depression and how, like my physical illnesses, it has disappeared since I started my health journey in 2009 and embraced juicing and a more plant based lifestyle.
Was My Old Junk Food Diet Making Me Depressed?
Eating junk such as as hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza heightens your chance of developing depression. I guess if the old adage that you are what you eat is true, then it should be no great surprise that if you eat crap, you will feel crap too – and not just physically.
The old me used to eat crap, feel crap, eat more crap to feel better, feel worse… then drink booze (another depressant). Drinking often made me eat even more crap, then I’d wake up with a hangover feeling crap and craving crap and the cycle would start again.
A study published in Public Health Nutrition journal revealed that consumers of fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression when compared to those who eat little or none and according to Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, lead author of the study, “the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression”.
The study (published in 2012) was undertaken by the universities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Granada, Spain.
The study, involving nearly 9,000 participants (who had never before been diagnosed with depression) found 493 of them were diagnosed with depression or began taking anti-depressant medication over a period of six months.
Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas said: “Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression.” She added that the findings backed up previous studies finding the link with depression.
She said: “Although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being.”
Junk Food “As Addictive as Heroin”
Limiting the intake of junk food may not be as easy as said however, as scientists have found that burgers, chips and sausages programmed a human brain into craving even more sugar, salt and fat laden food.
Researchers found laboratory rats became addicted on a bad diet just like people who became dependent on cocaine and heroin, suggesting that our brains may react in the same way to junk food as they do to drugs.
Heal Yourself – “You can’t keep one disease and heal two others”
No matter how long you have traveled in the wrong direction, you can always turn around.
Charlotte Gerson, the 92 year old founder of the Gerson Institute who has inspired thousands of people across the world to begin their personal healing journeys, says “you can’t keep one disease and heal two others – when the body heals, it heals everything”.
From my personal experience I have to agree with her. Changing the way I eat (and embracing juicing) has enabled me to heal both my physical and mental health and truly regain my life.
Oh, and it’s not just me. For example, when I interviewed Fiona Watson, she said “I was on antidepressants long term and using alcohol as an emotional crutch – 2 weeks in to my juice fast I realised I hadn’t taken a single thing!”
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