Refined carbohydrates linked to increase risk of depression

Refined carbohydratesColumbia University Medical Center has revealed that a diet high in refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of developing depression in postmenopausal women.

Menopause puts women at risk for depression due to changes in hormones and so, based on the new research, it is suggested to minimize intake of refined carbohydrates to lower one’s risk.


The research team explored the glycemic index, glycemic load, types of carbohydrates and rates of depression among 70,000 postmenopausal women. The participants were part of the National Institutes of Health’s Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study which took place between 1994 and 1998.

The consumption of carbohydrates raised blood sugar, but this was dependant on the type of food ingested. Highly refined carbohydrates have a higher glycemic index. Glycemic index refers to a food’s ability to increase blood sugar in the body. Refined foods such as white bread and soda triggers hormonal responses, which reduces blood sugar and can change mood, cause fatigue and symptoms of depression.

Researchers found that foods with a higher glycemic index and foods with added sugar were associated with an increased risk of depression in postmenopausal women. Consuming fiber, grains, fruits and vegetables revealed a lower risk of depression.

Additional research is required to understand the role food plays in depression, but researchers feel that diet may be a useful intervention in reducing the risk of depression.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance estimates 14.8-million American adults suffer from depression and cases continue to grow. Finding effective preventative measures to lower the risk of depression, especially naturally, can help minimize future cases.


Currently the Mayo Clinic reports some tips to prevent depression including minimizing and controlling stress, reaching out to others, especially when feeling down, seek treatment early on for best recovery and if you have gone through depression seek out long-term treatment in order to prevent a relapse.

The current study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.