“Diet is important for emotional well-being, which then affects all areas of people’s lives.”
Teen suicides and school shootings have become national epidemics. Could fast food be playing a hidden role?
By Emma Betuel on August 30, 2019
Inverse.com – The fast-food industry specializes in creating increasingly large portions of perfectly fried, salty concoctions that are already responsible for a number of health conditions.
Now, a growing body of research suggests that the effects of fast food diet may play out in the brain as well as the body.
The accumulation of a common nutrient found cheap, delicious fast food may have links to depressive symptoms in teens, a study published this month in the journal Physiological Reports suggests.
Researchers examined the urine samples of 84 African-American teenagers in Alabama and found high levels of sodium excretion and low levels of potassium excretion.
Teens with urine high in sodium and low in potassium reported more frequent depression symptoms nearly a year later.
Diet is important for emotional well-being
These high-sodium, low-potassium urine samples suggest that these teens were eating foods that had similar nutrition profiles.
Namely, diets high in processed foods, fast food, frozen meals or salty snacks and low in fresh fruits and vegetables, explains the study’s lead author Slyvie Mrug, Ph.D., the chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s department of psychology.
Mrug tells Inverse that her findings highlight an important connection between emotional health and diet that might not be visible right away:
“We hear a lot about the impact of diet on obesity and other health outcomes, but this work also shows that diet is important for emotional well-being, which then affects all areas of people’s lives.”
Diet and Depression
This is a small-scale study that gets right to the heart of a field sometimes called nutritional psychiatry.
That’s the idea that what we eat can have significant effects not only how we feel but on diagnosable mental health conditions too.
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