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How coffee affects mental health

How coffee affects mental health How coffee affects mental health (photo: Freepik)

Coffee is the favorite drink of millions of Ukrainians. It is often the go-to beverage for a boost of energy after sleepless nights due to Russian attacks. But how does this drink affect mental health, and does it not lead people into depression?

The answer to this question, according to a publication by dietitian Oleh Shvet.

How coffee affects mental health

"There is a wealth of compelling evidence regarding the impact of nutrition on the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, what we consume significantly influences the health and functional state of our brain. Unhealthy eating increases the risk of mental and neurological disorders, while healthy eating protects against them," says the doctor.

According to a 2011 study, women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day have a 15% lower risk of depression compared to those who consume less than 1 cup per week. In those who drank 4 cups or more, the risk decreased by 20%.

"The short-term impact of coffee on mood may be related to changes in serotonin and dopamine activity, while the potential long-term effects could be associated with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Both factors are believed to play a crucial role in preventing depressive disorders," explains the dietitian.

He adds that a meta-analysis from 2011 showed that consuming 1-6 cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of stroke by 17%.

"Despite the fact that coffee beans may elevate blood pressure, they contain antioxidant compounds capable of reducing the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins. Coffee consumption is also associated with increased insulin sensitivity and a decrease in inflammatory markers," says Shvets.

Which products should be avoided to prevent worsening mental health

"Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates have a detrimental impact on the immune system, oxidative stress, and neurotrophins, all factors that play a role in depression. According to a 2010 study, a diet rich in high-fat dairy products, fried, refined, and sweet foods significantly increases the risk of depression," says the doctor.

Results from another study showed that the consumption of foods like pizza and hamburgers over time increases the risk of depression. In yet another study, women who consumed a lot of processed foods were more likely to suffer from clinical depression or dysthymia.

"A study published last year, for the first time, demonstrated that the quality of adolescents' nutrition is linked to mental health: a healthier diet reduced symptoms (anxiety, restlessness, depression, etc.), while an unhealthy one exacerbated them over time," added Shvets.