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Excessive Consumption of Refined Carbs May Contribute to Depression in Later Life

A recent study suggests that a diet high in refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of new-onset depression in postmenopausal women. Refined carbohydrates rate higher on the glycemic index (GI) scale.


The glycemic index is a way of measuring the way in which food affect blood sugar levels. More highly refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, and soda, rate higher on the GI scale and also trigger a hormonal response in the body to reduce blood sugar levels. This hormonal response may cause or worsen mood changes, fatigue and other depression symptoms.


Participants in the study included more than 70,000 postmenopausal women who took part in the National Institute of Health’s Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, which took place between 1994 and 1998.


The researchers examined data that measured what the women ate and incidences of depression. They found that eating a higher amount of foods with a high GI was associated with an increased risk of depression. Higher consumption of dietary added sugars was also associated with a higher risk of depression.


Additionally, eating more dietary fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and non-juice fruits was associated with a lower risk of depression.


Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center conducted the study. It was published in the August 2015 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Refined carbohydrates have been found in previous studies to be associated with weight gain. If you’re looking to lower the amount of refined carbohydrates you consume, consider swapping out one refined carbohydrate for a whole grain. For example, you could eat brown rice instead of white rice or wheat bread instead of white.

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