It should make perfect sense to any reasonable person that what we eat affects how we think, feel, and behave. We know from numerous studies done in public school settings that various sugar-laden junk foods affect the behavior of children by causing hyper-activity and attention deficit disorder.
But did you know there is a link between dairy food consumption and the onset of depression in adults?
In a 2012 edition of the journal, Medical Hypotheses, “recent studies” were evaluated and found to reveal a pattern in which a diet of red and processed meat combined with fatty dairy products “increased the risk of depression.”1
One of those studies appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Dietary and health data was collected from 3,486 people aged 35 to 55 years, along with a clinical examination. Altogether, 127 food items were identified and evaluated based on their correspondence to the symptoms of depression. An eating pattern labeled ‘processed food’ that included high-fat dairy products was found to be most closely and highly associated with depression.2 By contrast, a dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruits and vegetables showed considerably less depression.
A 2010 dietary pattern analysis done in Australia among 432 men and 751 women aged 39 to 65 years came up with similar findings. Concluded the researchers: “intakes of whole fat dairy products, including ice cream and cream, were associated with increased depression, anxiety, stress, cognitive failures, poorer memory functioning and general health.”3
Still another study in the British Journal of Psychiatry linked depression and schizophrenia risk with dairy product consumption.4
A lot more in the way of studies and investigating needs to occur regarding mental health and dietary practices, but if this had been a trial of evidence linking dairy consumption to depression, I suspect a jury would return a verdict of Guilty.
1.Ekmekcioglu C. “Are proinflammatory cytokines involved in an increased risk for depression by unhealthy diets?” Med Hypotheses. 2012 Feb;78(2):337–40.
2.Brunner EJ. Et al. “Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age.” Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;195(5):408–413.
3. Critchton GE. Et al. “Dairy intake and cognitive health in middle-aged South Austra-lians.” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(2):161–71.
4. Peet M. “International variations in the outcome of schizophrenia and the prevalence of depression in relation to national dietary practices: an ecological analysis.” Br J Psychiatry. 2004 May;184:404–8.