Teenage depression is an issue that’s been on the rise in the United States in recent years. In fact, the rate of major aggressive episodes in kids that are between the age of 12-years-old and 17-years-old has risen a disheartening 52 percent from 2005 to 2017. Obviously, there has to be a hidden cause behind this sudden influx. Many believe social media and bullying could be to blame, and these things are most certainly factors in certain instances. However, a new study found that diet may also play a much larger role in mental health than ever known before, according to CNN.
It’s not new information that many teenagers don’t eat as well as they should. They are still in the process of growing and likely find themselves hungry most of the time. In addition, they might not have yet really learned how to maintain a healthy diet and could enjoy stopping by the local fast food joints with their friends. But a study that came from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that the chemicals in fast food can actually be linked to signs of depression later on.
Teens experiencing depression were found with high levels of sodium and low levels of potassium, which is linked to highly processed food. https://t.co/iGkgmTI1vA
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) August 30, 2019
The study examined the urine of a group of middle school students and found that the teens with low levels of potassium and high levels of sodium in their urine were more likely to experience the symptoms of depression. In addition, it revealed that having a low plant based diet can also be a contributor to poor mental health.
Sylvie Mrug is the lead author of the study and the chair of the psychology department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She explained what the foods are that are most likely to contain high levels of sodium.
“High sodium, you’ve got to think of highly processed food. This includes fast food, frozen meals and unhealthy snacks.”
Lisa Drayer is a dietitian and a health and nutrition contributor for CNN. She discussed how if teens are careful about maintaining good nutrition and consuming more potassium rich foods, they will not only have more energy but will have a lower risk of suffering from mental conditions such as depression.
“The study findings make sense, as potassium-rich foods are healthy foods. So, if adolescents include more potassium-rich foods in their diet, they will likely have more energy and feel better overall — which can lead to a better sense of well-being and improved mental health,” Drayer said.