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Holiday Blues? Wait -- It Might Be Your Diet!

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your diet may be causing your holiday blues Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Feeling melancholy around the winter holidays is common. In fact, a survey conducted in 2006 for the American Psychological Association found nearly 40 percent of respondents (44 percent of women and 31 percent of men) said they experienced the infamous "Holiday Blues".

High expectations, financial woes, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or general stress can send your Fa-la-la-la-la packing. But did you know what you eat could also be playing havoc with your sense of well-being?

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found women whose diet includes mostly foods that trigger inflammation — like sugar-sweetened or diet soft drinks, refined grains, red meat, and margarine — and fewer foods that help control inflammation — like wine, coffee, olive oil, as well as green leafy and yellow vegetables — have up to a 41 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with depression than those who eat mostly less inflammatory foods.

It's one of the most comprehensive studies to date to link certain foods to inflammation and depression.

But Michel Lucus, the study’s lead author and a visiting scientist at the HSPH, says don’t toss out your rice just yet.

Since foods are consumed together, no one food — like rice or margarine — creates a diet-disease risk. Rather, he says, it’s a person’s whole diet and how those foods interact within the human body.

Previous research suggests a link between inflammation and depression, but researchers didn’t know there was an association between inflammatory dietary pattern and depression.

Although some inflammation can be useful in fighting disease and injury within the immune system, numerous studies have identified excessive inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other health conditions.

Lucus and colleagues followed the diets and moods of 43,685 women ages 50-77 without depression when they first entered the study in 1996 until the end of the study in 2008.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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