Depression Risk Factors: Watch Out For This Hidden Cause

I’ve covered many of the risk factors for depression over the years in this blog.  Of course, top of the list of powerful tools to manage depression is exercise, but I understand that when you’re depressed, getting the motivation to exercise is just short of impossible.  That is why making the right lifestyle choices becomes critical to lower your risk of depression in the first place.  Or, once you’re there, there are simple changes you can make to begin to turn your brain health around.

I have covered simple, natural approaches to depression in a prior article that can be read by clicking here.  These are simple changes you can make that do not require the motivation that exercise does.  That same article covered the long list of potential side effects associated with antidepressant use as well.

Despite all of this, as with everything else, prevention is key.  This includes all the same lifestyle choicees that you need to adhere to in order to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  My recommendations can be found by clicking  here.  It makes sense, though–treat your body right and your brain health will follow.  And at least you don’t need to remember a different lifestyle list for each disease you want to prevent.  Makes it much easier, right?

So what hidden factor are we talking about in this particular article?  Before we go any further, I do need to clarify something.  This study has not been published in a peer reviewed journal (yet).  Rather, it is a presentation of a completed study that will be given during the 2013 annual American Academy of Neurology meeting.  It was also a study looking at seniors, not the general population.  However, since a senior’s brain works pretty much the same as everone else’s brain (albeit with maybe a little more clutter), I feel that making the jump to everyone else is not a big one.

Diet beverages. 

No regular reader of this blog will have any doubt that I absolutely despise the use of any form of artificial sweeteners and the bulk of the research suggests that they do nothing good and contribute to diabetes and weight gain.  But despite the research, society is firmly entrenched in the use of these substances.  So much so that the newest USDA recommendations for food in schools allows diet sodas to be sold in high schools.

Here are the summaries of the findings of a review of 263,295 adults, aged 50-70,  (that’s a lot, in case you were wondering):

  1. 4 cans or cups of sweetened soft drinks each day had a 30% increase in risk of depression.
  2. The increased risk with diet soda was 31%.
  3. Regular soda was 22% (yes-diet soda was worse for your brain than regular).
  4. Diet iced tea upped risk 25%.
  5. Fruit punch was implicated as well at 38% increased risk.
  6. Diet fruit punch ramped up risk a massive 51%.
  7. Regular fruit punch “only” increased risk 8%.
  8. Overall, aspartame (Nutrisweet) showed a 36% increase risk of depression (Tweet this).
  9. On the other hand, 4 cups of coffee daily lowered risk 9%.

Clearly, artificially sweeteners are NOT good for the brain.  Period.  And don’t think that, because you use Splenda instead of Nutrisweet, that you are safe.  Don’t count on it.

If you do still consume artificial sweeteners (consider your gum, your drinks, even your mouthwash), would you like to share why??  Inquiring minds want to know…

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.