Is Your Diet Making You Depressed?

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High fat foods

High-fat diets are associated with numerous health problems such as heart disease and stroke, but recent research suggests diets rich in fatty foods may also increase the risk for depression and other psychiatric disorders.

The study, published in Biological Psychiatry finds high-fat diets cause changes in health and behavior, at least partially by changing the mix of bacteria in the gut known as the gut microbiome.

The gut is stomach and intestinal tract are filled with trillions of microorganisms which are essential for normal functioning, but evidence suggests diets can have an influence on this microbiome which can play a role in decreasing an individual’s susceptibility to illness, including mental illness.

To test whether altered microbiomes influenced cognition and behavior, the team of researchers injected healthy rats with gut microbiota from donor mice which had been raced on either a high-fat or control diet. The team then evaluated the rats for changes in behavior and cognition.

The team saw the rats given microbiota from mice on high-fat diets exhibited numerous disruptions in behavior, including increased anxiety, impaired memory, and repetitive behaviors. They also found numerous negative effects on the body, such as increased intestinal permeability and markers of inflammation which may contribute to behavioral changes.

“This paper suggests that high-fat diets impair brain health, in part, by disrupting the symbiotic relationship between humans and the microorganisms that occupy our gastrointestinal tracks,” commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

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