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How depressing? Junk food is bad for your mental health, research warns

According to a major study, eating ultra-processed foods significantly increases the risk of depression.

The foods have long been linked to medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

But now researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran have concluded that regularly eating junk food increases the risk of depression by 15 percent.

Diets that include convenience foods, sugary cereals and soft drinks are often high in fat, salt and sugar, but low in vitamins and fibre.

Using data from global clinical trials and studies involving 160,000 men and women, the researchers looked for links between mental illness and poor nutrition.

Researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran have concluded that regularly eating junk food increases the risk of depression by 15 percent

Scientists suggest ultra-processed foods (UPFs) may cause inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health problems

Scientists suggest ultra-processed foods (UPFs) may cause inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health problems

The results concluded that high intake of low-nutrient meals also increased the risk of anxiety by 16 percent.

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Scientists suggest that ultra-processed foods (UPFs) can cause inflammation in the brain, which can lead to mental health problems.

At around 57 percent of the national diet, Brits consume more UPFs than any other European country.

The Iranian study – the largest to date on the impact of diet on mental well-being – also suggested that these foods may reduce levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the body, which is crucial for healthy mental functioning .

However, some experts have argued that ultra-processed foods don’t necessarily cause depression.

Instead, they argue that people who are depressed are more likely to make poor food choices.

“When people are feeling down, they often don’t bother to cook, so they opt for ready-made meals,” says Gunter Kuhnle, professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Reading.

‘We have long known that there is a strong relationship between diet and mental health, but it is difficult to say definitively that a poor diet causes depression.’

Earlier this year, the world’s largest study on UPFs found that they increase the risk of damage to every part of the body when consumed in large quantities.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that diets rich in UPF products increase the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke by 50 percent.

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