Don’t disturb me, potato! The love of fried foods increases the risk of depression | Psychology of life | Health

Chinese scientists conducted a study and found an interesting pattern. The habitual consumption of fried foods, especially potatoes, has been linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression for many of us. This was found out during the analysis of questionnaires and then confirmed in a laboratory experiment with zebrafish.

The risk of developing anxiety increased by 12%, depression – by 7%

“Western eating patterns are unfavorably associated with mental health. However, the long-term effects of eating fried foods on anxiety and depression, and their underlying mechanisms, remain unclear.

When food is heated in a pan, a chemical reaction occurs between sugars and amino acids, known as the Maillard reaction. It is she who provides the appearance of an appetizing ruddy crust, characteristic taste and smell. For this, in fact, they love fried food, giving it preference when choosing dishes in a restaurant or when ordering at home.

Previous studies have already been conducted that have shown that Western cuisine with a lot of fried and highly processed foods, sugars and yeast products is more likely to cause neuropsychiatric disorders in consumers. Now, employees at Zhejiang University and the Zhejiang Police College decided to test the link for fried foods only. For about 11 years, they monitored the health of men and women from the UK Biobank database, which contains information about 140,000 people.

The average age of participants is 56 years. During the observation period, symptoms of depression and anxiety were detected in 12,735 and 8,294 people, respectively.

According to the questionnaires, fried lovers (those who ate one or more servings of such food every day) are mostly young men. There are many smokers and overweight people among them, their income and level of education are below average.

It turned out that in this group the risk of developing anxiety increased by 12%, and depression – by 7%. Curiously, the love of fried potatoes additionally increases the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders by 2%. And the simultaneous addiction to both fried meat and potatoes – by 4%.

The fish became smaller and huddled in dark places

The Chinese scientists did not stop there. To understand the mechanisms of the effects of fried food on the body, they conducted a series of experiments with laboratory zebrafish. No, they were not fed fried potatoes, but acrylamide, one of the main products of the very Maillard reaction, was added to the feed.

The result should alert lovers of daily fast food. With the chronic action of acrylamide for 180 days, the length and body weight of the fish decreased. They increasingly began to hide in dark places (in the language of science, this behavior model is called scototaxis) or stay near walls (thigmotaxis), their adaptive, search and social behavior was disrupted. All of these signs are consistent with symptoms of anxiety and depression in humans.

Scientists have suggested that this behavior of zebrafish may be associated with a violation of lipid metabolism in their brain and a neuroinflammatory process.

“Remarkably, acrylamide is a typical contaminant in fried foods, further explaining its toxicological mechanism of action,” the authors write. “We have demonstrated that long-term exposure to acrylamide induces anxiety and depressive behavior through oxidative stress-mediated neuroinflammation and uncovered the underlying mechanism by which lipid metabolism is impaired in the brain.”


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