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The food we put in our bodies doesn’t just affect our physical health; it can greatly impact our mental health, as well. So if you want to to prevent depression, paying attention to your diet is key. Research shows that one of best ways to reduce your risk for developing depression is to stay away from refined carbohydrates. Low-glycemic foods are a much healthier option for maintaining good mental health.
The idea that limiting refined carbohydrates is good for depression isn’t new. In fact, one of the pillars of holistic depression treatment is to avoid these foods, which cause spikes in blood sugar. People with depression often crave carbohydrates, but this can lead to a vicious cycle and worsening of symptoms.
Low-Glycemic Foods: How They Can Lower Depression Risk
A low-glycemic diet doesn’t just help treat depressive symptoms; it can actually help to prevent depression from developing in the first place, too. A study published in August 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed data from about 70,000 postmenopausal women to investigate this effect. They found that women who had higher dietary glycemic index intake had increased odds of developing depression within the three-year study. They also found that higher consumption of added sugars was associated with depression risk.
On the other hand, women who ate more fiber, fruits, and vegetables (which often have lower glycemic indexes) were shown to have a lower chance of developing depression, per the study’s findings. The authors suggest that the association may be due to many different mechanisms. Refined carbohydrates contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease, which are all associated with depression.
What Are Low-Glycemic Foods?
Start protecting yourself from depression now by making healthy food choices, opting for low-glycemic foods that won’t produce spikes in blood sugar. Simply put, foods that are high in fiber are usually low-glycemic; on the other hand, starchy, sugary foods are high-glycemic. So choose foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans. Avoid white bread, potatoes, baked goods, and foods with added sugars.
Learn more about the glycemic index and find a glycemic index food list by clicking here.
You can read more about how food affects your mood in “This is Your Brain on French Fries—Don’t Ignore How Food Affects Depression Symptoms.”
Share Your Experience
Do you follow a diet low in refined carbohydrates? Does it make you feel better, both physically and mentally? What are your favorite low-glycemic recipes? Share your experience in the comments section below.
Originally published in 2015 and updated.