You’re not alone if a big bowl of pasta puts a smile on your face, but according to new research, that sense of happiness may be short-lived. A new study links pasta and other carbohydrates to a risk of being diagnosed with depression.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbohydrates are essential to the human body as a source of glucose. Carbohydrates can be found in both healthy and unhealthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, cookies, and soda.
A research team led by Michel Lucas, Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, has finished conducting a 12-year study to determine carbohydrate-rich food’s association with depression. A total of 43,000 women with no history of depression were recruited for the study. Researchers asked participants about their daily eating habits and oversaw blood testing.
Results indicated that women who ate red meat and refined grains such as bread, pasta, and chips were at a 29 to 41 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with or receiving treatment for depression. Dr. Lucas and his colleagues were also surprised by the effect that carbohydrates had on inflammation, Prevention reports.
Although Dr. Lucas was unable to explain the specific cause of carbohydrates' effect on mental health and the body’s immune response, he did provide a list of foods known to reduce the risk of depression and inflammation. Olive oil, coffee, wine, fish, and certain vegetables can help boost your mood and control inflammation.
A recent study out of Emory University also focused on the connection between depression and inflammation. Researchers tested an anti-inflammatory drug’s effect on people with high levels of untreatable depression. The medication successfully blocked a key molecule in inflammation that may also induce depression-like symptoms.
"Inflammation is the body's natural response to infection or wounding," said Andrew H. Miller, M.D., the study’s lead researcher and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. "However when prolonged or excessive, inflammation can damage many parts of the body, including the brain."