Lecture 3 min.
in cooperation with
Arnaud Cocaul (nutritionist)
A new American study reveals a link between large amounts of ultra-processed foods and the risk of depression. One more reason to limit their consumption and rethink your diet? Deciphering with nutritionist Arnaud Cocaul.
More and more studies show the harmful effects of ultra-processed foods on overall health: they increase the risk of premature death, cancer, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, biological aging, overweight and even obesity and autism in unborn children. child. Today, a new study reveals that overly processed foods could also promote depression in regular consumers.
Damage to our mental health from 9 servings a day
This conclusion follows from a large-scale study conducted by researchers from Harvard University in particular. The eating habits of 30,000 women who suffered from depression between 2003 and 2017 were examined in detail.
The authors were particularly interested in the consumption of foods such as:
- Ultra-processed cereals;
- Sweet snacks;
- Ready meals;
- Fats and sauces;
- Ultra-processed dairy products;
- Salty snacks;
- Processed meat;
- Beverages and artificial sweeteners.
The result: Women who consumed nine or more servings of ultra-processed foods per day (from the list) had a 49% increased risk of depression compared to those who consumed less than four servings per day. Additionally, those who reduced their consumption of ultra-processed foods by at least three servings per day had a lower risk of depression than those whose consumption was relatively stable.
“These findings suggest that high consumption of ultra-processed foods, particularly artificial sweeteners and artificially sweetened beverages, is associated with an increased risk of depression.”the authors conclude.
“Anything that modifies the gut microflora can affect the nervous system”
Dr. Arnaud Cocaul, a nutritionist who has consulted on the topic, explains this connection between processed foods, sugary drinks and mental health.
“All the ingredients that come into play in the composition of processed foods, such as emulsifiers and additives, have the peculiarity of modifying the digestive flora and intestinal microflora. In the same way, synthetic sweeteners that soften the taste, such as aspartame, sucralose, act on the intestinal microflora and even adjust the intestinal permeability, allowing the passage of substances that should not.
And these changes are not without consequences for our mental health.
“The gut, as we know, is connected to the central nervous system. The modification of the microflora is therefore able to remotely damage other organs. In addition, these foods depleted of vitamins, or whose added vitamins are not sufficient, also reduce the amount of necessary antioxidants. That they increase the risk of depression, yes , that’s obvious!’
How can we adapt our diet based on this observation?
“The current problem is that many foods are ultra-produced, by industrial technology, which is not adapted to human technology, to what the body really needs. When you add to this the pollution in which we are immersed, you have two major societal problems of the moment.”
NO to diets, YES to WW!
Small tips for healthier eating
No food is “bad” as long as it brings pleasure and its consumption remains reasonable. If it is difficult for you to completely ban ultra-processed foods every day, a few simple rules will allow you to choose them best:
- Avoid recipes containing partially hydrogenated fatssources of trans fatty acids (harmful from the cardiovascular point of view);
- When you have a choice between two similar products, choose the one that has the least additives, is the least salty, contains rapeseed oil in preference to palm oil, contains sugar in preference to glucose or glucose fructose syrup;
- Favor products with the shortest list of ingredients;
- Is possible, prefer organic productsfor which the list of permitted additives is limited to 48 (compared to almost 400 in ordinary foods).
- Replace ultra-processed products with less processed products as much as possibleit is just as quick to cook and enjoyable to eat.