High-GI carb intake may trigger a depressive low, study finds

The fibre content of low-GI foods have been attributed to the foods protective effect against the onset of depression. ©iStock

The type of carbohydrate we eat may affect depression, say scientists who have identified high-GI foods as a risk factor. 

While high-GI foods were linked to higher risks of depression, the team said low GI-foods like vegetables and fibre lowered risks.

“The independent association between higher dietary GI intake and greater odds of depressive symptoms observed in our cohort of older adults concurs with other epidemiological studies, which suggest that high-GI diets could be a risk factor for depression,” the study explained.

Previous findings for the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and mental health in older adults have generally been inconsistent, with one Spanish study of institutionalised older adults finding an inverse link between dietary Glycaemic Load (GL – a measure of quantity and the quality of carbohydrates) and prevalence of depression.

Meanwhile, one more study showed that higher GI and sugar intake were associated with an increased risk of incident depression.

Study details

Data collected from 2,334 participants aged 55+ years and 1952 participants aged 60+ years were analysed.

Dietary information was collected using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) where alongside carbohydrate consumption, information about foods like fruits, vegetables and cereals were also evaluated.

Depressive symptoms were based on antidepressant use or either the 36-Item Short-Form Survey, which included the Mental Health Index (MHI), or the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression-10 Scale.

“Given that this is an observational study, we were not able to determine the pathways by which dietary GI could influence mental well-being; however, we can hypothesise potential mechanisms,” the study’s authors said.

“First, greater inflammation as a result of higher-GI intake has been suggested as a mechanism for depression. Second, high-GI diets could also lead to insulin resistance, which has been associated with a pattern of volumetric and neurocognitive deficits, which are very similar to that found in individuals suffering from clinical depression.

Fantastic fibre

As much as inflammation had a prominent role in depression, fibre was lauded for its protective effect with the team attributing the avoidance of post meal hyperglycaemic peaks.

Repeated postprandial hyperglycaemia has been shown to lead to the overproduction of harmful free radical molecules and a greater inflammatory response.

“Older adults with higher consumption of dietary fibre are also likely to be consuming higher amounts of nutrients that are important for a healthy nervous system, which therefore has a beneficial influence on mental health status,” the authors believed.  

“Moreover, vegetables have low GI and this attribute could explain its consumption being inversely associated with the prevalence of depressive symptoms in older adults.”

Source: British Journal of Nutrition

Published online ahead of print: doi.org/10.1017/S0007114516004311

“Association between carbohydrate nutrition and prevalence of depressive symptoms in older adults.”

Authors: Bamini Gopinath, Victoria Flood, George Burlutksy, Jimmy Louie, Paul Mitchell 

Related News

© iStock

Are male vegetarians more likely to be depressed than meat-eaters?

Study links trans fat intake to depression

Baked goods and fast-foods linked to depression: Study

Baked goods and fast-foods linked to depression: Study

Diet and depression: New studies should follow CVD research models

Diet and depression: New studies should follow CVD research models, researchers argue

Soda linked to depression while coffee tied to lower risk

Hold the soda? Study links carbonated drinks to depression while coffee is tied to lower risk

An inability to distinguish fat concentrations may cause mildly depressed people to unconsciously eat more unhealthy food, the researchers said.

Comfort eating? Perceptions of fat are altered by mood and state of mind, finds study

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.