Chalk this up as possibly the worst news you’ll hear today, but those cheat meals and that fast food you love might just be leading you to a serious bout of depression—not to mention indigestion.
According to a study published in Translational Psychiatry, mice exposed to a high-fat diet suffered alterations in their hypothalamic function that lead to depression. Consuming a high-fat diet, such as what you typically get from fast food and other cheat meals, causes an accumulation of palmitic acid in the hypothalamus.
Palmitic acid can be found in many foods and ingredients, like palm and olive oil, cheese, butter, margarine, and some meat products. Palmitic acid can alter signalling pathways when found in high levels, such as cAMP/PKA, which helps regulate metabolic processes, including dopamine signalling.
If your dopamine signalling isn’t working, then your emotions aren’t going to be regulated properly, which can lead to depression.
“This is the first time anyone has observed the direct effects a high-fat diet can have on the signalling areas of the brain related to depression. This research may begin to explain how and why obesity is linked with depression, and how we can potentially better treat patients with these conditions,” explains Professor George Baillie from the University of Glasgow.
As depressing as this news is, don’t reach for that cheeseburger—you’ll probably make things worse.