Vegetarians are twice as likely to be depressed: study
Could a burger a day keep the depression away?
A new study published by the Journal of Affective Disorders found that beef was the only food linked to a lower risk of depression.
Researchers wanted to look into the association between vegetarianism and depression among adults.
They asked 14,216 people in Brazil between the ages of 35 and 74 if they followed a meatless diet, and interviewed participants to identify their episodes of depression.
When looking at the association between plant-based diets and mental wellness, scientists took into consideration other variables including sociodemographic parameters, smoking or alcohol habits, levels of physical activity, self-assessed health status, body mass index and nutrition during the 6 months prior.
Researchers found that meatless diets actually led to people experiencing depressive episodes twice as often as those who eat beef.
The authors of the study wrote that “nutrient deficiencies do not explain this association,” but other experts have a different take.
Nutrients found in beef — including iron, vitamin B, zinc and protein — help brain functioning and may be valuable in preventing depressive episodes.
“Whenever an individual excludes an entire food group, in this case, protein and fat sources, and does not replace it with equally nutritionally-adequate options, it will affect a variety of systemic and physiological functions such as cognitive health,” Monique Richard, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, told Healthline.
Richard, who was not involved in the study, pointed out that in order to find out if nutrient deficiencies were the cause behind the findings, much further testing would have to be done.
“Other factors that would be important to assess would be if the person felt isolated or disconnected from others related to their dietary choice,” Richard said.
Researchers indeed concluded that the association is unclear and more data would be needed to clarify the relationship.
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