Study Finds that Eating Fries Often May Be Responsible for Experiencing Anxiety and Depression

Study Finds that Eating Fries Often May Be Responsible for Experiencing Anxiety and Depression
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French fries are oily, starchy, and often considered a comfort dish that is not the best for our bodies.

However, grabbing fried food may also be bad for your mental health.

The risk of anxiety and depression were shown to be 12 percent and 7 percent greater, respectively, in people who consumed fried foods regularly, particularly fried potatoes, compared to those who didn’t.

Younger people and especially young men showed a stronger connection.

The study, which was released on Monday in the journal PNAS, claims that these findings “open an avenue in the relevance of limiting fried food intake for mental health.”

The results, according to experts, are still premature, and it’s unclear if fried meals caused mental health concerns or whether those who were already suffering signs of depression or anxiety simply went for that kind of comfort food more often.

Over the course of 11.3 years, 140,728 individuals were examined. 8,294 cases of anxiety and 12,735 of depression were discovered in individuals who consumed fried food after eliminating participants who had been diagnosed with depression during the first 2 years.

Fries were shown to have a 2 percent higher risk of depression than white meat.

Additionally, the study had discovered that the individuals who routinely had more than one dish of fried food tended to be younger males.

Lifestyle medicine specialist, Dr. David Katz, who was not directly involved in the research, says that “The human component of this study might indicate just what it purports: that higher intake of fried food increases the risk of anxiety and depression. However, the causal pathway could just as readily go the other way: people with anxiety/depression turn to ‘comfort food’ with increasing frequency for some semblance of relief.”

According to him, people who have anxiety or depression may use comfort foods as a kind of self-medication.

Unfortunately, however, according to a previous study highlighted inside this new one, eating poorly and getting inadequate nourishment might impair one’s mood and worsen a mental health problem.

The current study says that the increased risk of anxiety and depression is due to the chemical acrylamide, which is created during the frying process, particularly in fries.

In a previous study that was cited in the current study, the researchers exposed zebrafish to the substance and discovered that long term exposure had led the fish to stay in gloomy areas of the tank, which is a typical marker of a greater degree of anxiety in fish.

In spite of the fact that zebrafish are known to establish schools with members of their own species, the zebrafish in this study showed limited capacity to socialize and explore their space.

Katz mentions that “Zebrafish were presumably chosen … because they were known as vulnerable to acrylamide toxicity, and because their behavioral reactions to anxiety are established and also consistent — offering a source of biological and behavioral data alike.”

Dr. Walter Willett also said that the results “should be regarded as preliminary, especially the link with fried food and acrylamide. The health effects of fried food depends greatly on what food gets fried and what type of fat is used. Potatoes are a concern for potential effects of mood because they can cause massive surges in blood sugar and then hormonal responses to the surges. However, they are partly blunted by fat, which can be provided by the fat from frying.”

Willett said that because of how different humans and zebrafish are, “results from zebrafish are difficult to interpret in regard to human health, and the authors understood this,”

According to Yu Zhang, a researcher at Zhejiang University and one of the authors, “there is no reason to fear about the ill consequences of fried food.”

However, leading a healthy lifestyle and cutting back on fried food intake may be beneficial for both physical and mental health.

According to the study, the World Health Organization predicts that more than 5 percent of individuals worldwide experience depression.

The researchers matched the effects of eating fried food in humans to those of acrylamide exposure in zebrafish in order to show that consuming the chemical frequently present in fried food may be detrimental to mental health.

According to Katz, a lack of diversity in the diet has also been linked to a decline in well-being.

Katz stressed that “If a take away is needed it’s simply that overall diet quality, and the selection of healthy foods, matters to every aspect of health — mental and physical.”

Finally, Willett pointed out that reverse causation is also possible, meaning that people can change their diets as a result of anxiety or depression.

“These mood changes are, in general, much more difficult to study because they might come and go, unlike the diagnosis of a serios cancer or heart-attack, the study was not designed to address these challenges.”


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Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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