The number of newly diagnosed cases of clinical depression continues to rise at an alarming rate, as the illness results in countless lost work hours and increases risk of early mortality from suicide or violence. The current approach is to prescribe anyone a variety of psychotropic drugs that numb an individual’s ability to think and react to external stimuli in a healthy manner. The leading question is what has changed over the past 50 years to cause such a dramatic rise in the incidence of depression among millions of otherwise healthy men, women and children alike?
A research team presenting to the American Academy of Neurology has found that drinking sweetened beverages, and especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults while drinking coffee was tied to a slightly lower risk. The lead study author, Dr. Honglei Chen noted “Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical, and may have important mental, health consequences.”
Sweetened beverages dramatically increase depressive episodes with minimal daily consumption
The study included a very large sampling cohort of 263,925 people between the ages of 50 and 71. Researchers evaluated the consumption of drinks such as soda, tea, fruit punch and coffee between the years of 1995 and 1996. 10 years later, the team asked the participants whether they had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000, and determined that a total of 11,311 depression diagnoses were made.
The scientists found that people drinking four or more cups of soda per day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression. Participants drinking four or more cups of sweetened fruit punch each day were 38 percent more apt to develop depression as compared to those not drinking sweetened beverages. Interestingly, researchers found that the risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet than regular soda, diet instead of regular fruit punches and for diet rather than regular iced tea.
Dr. Chen concluded “Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk.” Common wisdom condemns the consumption of any quantity of empty calories from sweetened beverages, and much research has maligned drinking diet beverages due to the high levels of non-nutritive artificial sweeteners, dangerous chemicals and phosphoric acid. Drink four to six cups of purified water or fresh brewed green or black tea daily to lower the risks associated with depression.
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