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Depression and glycaemic index.

Depression and glycaemic index

Rahimlou M, Morshedzadeh N, Karii S, Jafarirad S. Association between dietary glycaemic index and glycaemic load with depression: a systematic review. Eur J Nutr 2018. Available online:

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses with significant burden on health and functional status. Genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors have all been associated with depression. Dietary patterns have previously been associated with mood problems with the Mediterranean diet suggested to be protective, whist the Western diet appears to contribute adverse effects on mood. Dietary patterns rich in sweet desserts and refined grain have been linked to an increased risk of depression. The authors of the current study aimed to conduct a systematic review comparing the effect of low or high glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) on depression.

The authors conducted a comprehensive search in PubMed, Embase, Clinical, Cochrane Library and Scopus using the terms "glycaemic index" or "glycaemic load" and "mood disorder", "depression", "depressive disorder", or "emotional depression". Inclusion criteria included English language, measurement of GI or GL and depression scores with a standardised scale, prospective or cross-sectional study design, adult or elderly population, with GI and GL estimated from habitual dietary intake. Studies of low methodological quality were excluded.

Six studies were ultimately included in the systematic review, of which three were prospective cohort studies and three were cross-sectional. All except one of the included studies were of high methodological quality. The studies included in the review incorporated some 75,298 adults and elderly.

Intake of food with higher GI was associated with disease risk with results suggesting low GI carbohydrates are associated with reduced odds of depression. The association with GL and depression risk was less clear, however. The authors reported an inverse relationship for GL with depression, noting that the association was weak. Limitations of the study include different aetiologies behind the depression, a lack of homogeneity of depression types, and the inability to explain potential reverse causality between depression and tendency to consume carbohydrates.

The study aimed to examine the possible association between glycaemic index and glycaemic load on depression with the overall findings indicating that a diet with a lower dietary glycaemic index may be effective to reduce the risk of depression. Further high-quality studies are needed to confirm these findings. With depression being so prevalent in society, dietary factors that may reduce the risk are of great interest.

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Author:Tester, Jodie
Publication:Australian Journal of Herbal and Naturopathic Medicine
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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