Our Diet Being High In Fat Can Impact Our Mental Health

People who are obese usually become depressed but we are unclear about the components at play. A new study in mice might give us information about the process in the brain of individuals who consume high-fat diet.

Numerous studies and also Medical News Today wrote about in November last year, show us that people suffering from obesity have a high risk of depression. It is vague to all as to why this is the risk and what biological components are linked to obesity-related depression.

Researchers from University of Glasgow in the UK and the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, CA, have based their reports of how consuming high saturated fatty diet can cause depression to occur most likely, by using mouse models to observe.

The investigators who were led by Prof. George Baillie, from the University of Glasgow, on a very significant topic, and needs to be noted that obesity-related depression occurs via contrasting mechanisms from depression occurring in healthy individuals.

In the journal, Translation Psychiatry, there is a study where a research team describes that lot of people suffering from obesity and depression are prescribed antidepressants by the doctors but are unable to see any good results. However, people who suffer from depression and obesity do not have occurrences of any side effects that people link with these antidepressants, for example extra weight gain.

“When compared with patients of normal body weight, overweight and obese patients showed a substantially slower response to antidepressant treatment, less improvement in neuroendocrinology and cognitive processing, and less antidepressant-induced weight gain,” the researchers write.

Link between fatty acids and human brain

What goes on in the brains of individuals who are overweight or obese that make them more vulnerable to depression? To get a simple picture in our mind, the research team performed a preliminary study in mouse models where the scientists made them consume a high fat diet, consisting of up to 60% of saturated and unsaturated fats.

The brains of mammals, even humans require some fatty acids like omega-3 to perform their day to day tasks. The human body, especially, is unable to consume fatty acids all alone so they require taking in these substances from food. Sadly, all fatty acids aren’t healthy and an increase of fatty acids in our body can result in severe health problems.

The current finding indicated, that the researchers observed the way the fatty acids gathered in the brain of the mice consuming the high-fat diet, and checked if these components impacted mechanisms that the scientists believe have a link to mental health and the alterations in behavior remains the same with the existence of depression. Later on, the team discovered the mice that were a part of their study went through an influx of palmitic acid to part of the brain which is called the hypothalamus, which controls the allowance of many hormones into the bloodstream.

This study has also made the researchers find out further information; it looks like the increased levels of palmitic acid (mostly found in olive oil, cheese, butter, margarine and particular meat products) in the hypothalamus change a signaling path which makes the researchers link it to characteristics of depression. This direction is known as Camp/pka, is part of various metabolic processes, also containing dopamine signaling, which, provides to the controlling of emotions.

Thereby, in mice, the observers made a conclusion that the consumption of particular dietary facts had a straight influence on brain-signaling directions which impact the progress of depression.

Your comfort food increases bad emotions

“This is the first time anyone has observed the direct effects a high-fat diet can have on the signaling areas of the brain related to depression,” says Prof. Baillie. “This research may begin to explain how and why obesity is linked with depression, and how we can potentially better treat patients with these conditions,” he adds.

The researchers are positive that the mechanism which they noticed in mice may be also the occurrence in humans with obesity-related depression. The relation between a bad diet and mental health makes sense, in the opinion of the lead author.

Prof. George Baillie says, “We often use fatty food to comfort ourselves as it tastes really good, however, in the long term, this is likely to affect one’s mood in a negative way. Of course, if you are feeling low, then to make yourself feel better you might treat yourself to more fatty foods, which then would consolidate negative feelings.”

The recent studies also gave the researchers a hint as to how to handle obesity related depression in a better way. They also tried to lower levels of an enzyme called phospodiesterase, which snaps down cAMP. This method gave way to shield the mice from evolving behaviors constant with the existence of depression.

For the future, the researchers have hope that the findings will provide information for experts to create better cures or take cautious approaches against obesity-related depression.