Drinking Carbonated Drinks Is Associated With A Higher Risk Of Depression

Drinking Carbonated Drinks is associated with a higher risk of Depression

Medicine and psychology are and will be united by their restorative function for people’s health, with the two disciplines being part of the well-known health sciences. Normally, scientific findings around medicine are extrapolated or related in some way in psychological or psychiatric research. It is not difficult to understand that some psychological disorders can be the cause or consequence of an illness or medical complication.

For example, the association between depression and obesity is visible in the scientific literature. In some cases, people with obesity can develop depression due to the complications that this first disease causes in their daily life, in self-perception, social difficulties, work complications… In the same way, a person with depression is more likely to develop obesity due to the establishment of a more sedentary life or unhealthy habits.

However, in general, in the study of the influence of our diet on our health, the focus is on physical well-being and the impact on our biology of what we eat or drink. However, a study published this same year, 2023, focuses on the risk of developing depression based on the consumption of sugary carbonated drinks.

In this article, we will discuss the starting point of this study, its findings and its limitations. It is important to begin to become aware that our physical and mental health are generally closely linked, and it is important not to only focus on the impact of what we eat on our body; It is also important to consider our mind.

Carbonated drinks and health

Carbonated beverages are defined as beverages or soft drinks manufactured primarily with a base of carbonated water, sweeteners, acidulants, colorants, acidity stabilizers and preservatives. Basically, a drink composed mainly of a large portion of chemicals and sugar. Therefore, the study of these drinks has been mainly focused on their negative impact on people’s physical health.

It is widely demonstrated that high consumption of sugary carbonated drinks is one of the main causes of the so-called global obesity epidemic. In a multitude of studies, this consumption has been labeled as a potential risk factor for heart and metabolic problems. Mainly, these studies refer to the effect of these drinks mediated by large amounts of sugar which increase our glycemic levels, leading to the possibility of developing insulin resistance.

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Almost all people are aware that consuming carbonated drinks in excess is unhealthy, but we always focus on the fact that they are not positive for our body or physical health. However, it is important to keep in mind that our habits, the way we eat and relate to food They also have an impact on our mental health and even, in some cases, these eating behaviors are explained by mental patterns.

Understanding depressive disorder

To continue and understand the relationship proposed by the study that we will discuss in this article, it is important to shed light on what depression is and from what perspective this research studies it. Depression is considered one of the main public health problems, being a global cause of imbalance in years of life among many people around the world.

Depression is understood as a psychological and emotional disorder characterized mainly by an emotionality of persistent sadness, which generally entails a loss of interest and attention to the activities that one used to enjoy before experiencing the disorder. This makes it very difficult to have a normalized life in society, causing problems in maintaining social support, a stable work life, and the search for satisfying activities.

As we have previously mentioned, there is a multitude of evidence that has linked physiological diseases with depression, such as metabolic disorders or insulin resistance. It has been shown that prediabetic and diabetic patients have a greater association with depression, and in turn, the scientific community highlights the influence of this emotional disorder on the development and maintenance of these psychophysiological problems.

Evidence of the link between depression and carbonated drinks

Focusing now on the main study that gives relevance to this article, this research carried out in Korea focused on studying the association between the consumption of sugary carbonated drinks and depression. The peculiarity and what gives relevance to this research is that they did not focus the study on people with metabolic or diabetic problems; They wanted to know the association between these drinks and depression without taking into account any other physiological disorder.

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Methodology

This study was carried out following a longitudinal methodology. Longitudinal studies basically consist of the measurement of a phenomenon during a specific time interval. They normally last several years, and through different moments of information collection, they are intended to represent the reality of a phenomenon in a more consistent and stable way over time. This research lasted almost 6 years, with a sample of 87,115 people.

The average age of these participants was 40 years, and two thirds of the sample were men. Only 29% of participants consumed sugary carbonated drinks more than once a week.

Results

Taking into account the portion of the sample with the highest consumption of sugary carbonated drinks, this group corresponded to the youngest and dominated by men, consuming more than five carbonated drinks a week. These participants were those with the highest levels of glucose, alcohol consumption, caloric intake and tobacco consumption. At the same time, they also had the lowest levels of physical activity and, curiously, the lowest proportion of participants who were married or in a romantic relationship.

Looking at the main research question, comparing the groups that never or almost never consumed carbonated beverages with those that did, the risk of the presence of depressive symptoms increased proportionally to the consumption of carbonated beverages. Not only were people who consumed carbonated drinks more susceptible to depression than those who did not consume, but significant differences were also observed between those who consumed a few drinks a week (one, two or three) compared to those who consumed four or three. more than five.

The main conclusion of the study is that they demonstrated that high consumption of sugary carbonated drinks could be significantly associated with the risk of suffering depressive symptoms, in addition to describing a pattern at the dose-response level (the higher the dose, the greater the risk). This association was independent of the risk of obesity, metabolic disorders or insulin resistance. Furthermore, the relationship between the consumption of sugary carbonated drinks and the risk of depression was observed identically between genders. Therefore, the results of this study reinforce the main hypothesis; A relationship was demonstrated between high consumption of carbonated drinks and the probability of developing depression.

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Furthermore, this is not the first study to put this to the test and reveal it. A study carried out in Australia showed that people who consumed more than half a liter of soft drinks a day were 60% more likely to have depression, suicidal ideas and mental problems than those who did not consume these drinks.

The explanation that this study proposes for its findings is the effects of sugary carbonated drinks on the nervous system. It has been studied in rats under experimental conditions that high fructose consumption can lead to anxious and depressive behaviors. This is due to the changes that these substances have on the microbiota and neuronal metabolism, contributing to maladaptive alterations in the central nervous system.

A topic under review and study

Although this study has demonstrated the existence of a relationship between the consumption of sugary carbonated beverages and soft drinks and the probability of developing depression, cannot be taken as a 100% proven fact. It is important to keep in mind that a study measures a specific reality, but these findings require constant revisions and testing in different contexts in order to be understood as realities. For example, this study highlights its limitations in terms of the consumption of carbonated drinks presented in this study compared to that in other countries. In the United States, similar results have been found for lower consumption of carbonated beverages, so cross-cultural studies would need to be carried out. In addition, a sample focused on healthy adults should be taken into account; These results cannot be extrapolated to the general population, the elderly or adolescents.

It is interesting how science studies different phenomena every day to explain hitherto unknown realities. It is important to take these findings into account and recognize the validity they give us as humans. Only through science are we able to move forward, detect harmful patterns for ourselves and the people around us, and learn strategies and behaviors focused on self-care and establishing healthy behavioral patterns.