An article in this month’s Scientific American Mind reinforces a link between eating processed foods and the experience of anxiety and/or depression. Trans fats, in particular, have been shown to have profound negative effects not just on our physical health, but our mental well-being as well.
Trans fats do naturally occur in trace amounts in some foods (like milk and meat). Our health is negatively affected by “manufactured” trans fats, fats made when hydrogen atoms are added to liquid vegetable oil to make it more solid. These trans fats are then added to processed foods to improve their taste, texture and shelf life. They have been directly linked to increased rates of high cholesterol and heart disease; trans fats raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL) and are also thought to inhibit the bodies ability to use healthy fats as a fuel source. More recently, however, trans fats have been linked to problems with mood. Researchers in Spain studied more than 12,000 subjects over a 6 year period tracking their eating habits, lifestyle, and medical issues. They found that people who consumed the most trans fats showed a 48% increased risk of depression! These findings reinforce the old adage You are what you eat.
Your body needs good fuel in order to run properly…try to avoid processed foods as often as possible, and instead fill your diet with fresh, whole foods every day. Aside from the chemical effects of processed foods, it’s hard to feel blue when you fit into your skinny jeans 🙂