A new study from Harvard University is making headlines for trumpeting that eating pasta causes depression in women, but the study's co-author says the press has grossly oversimplified his research.
In an exclusive interview Oct. 30, Dr. Michel Lucas told me his research suggested a strong link between depression and an inflammatory diet — not just pasta consumption.
"In fact, this whole dietary pattern was relatively high in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, red meat, diet soft drinks, and margarine, but low in wine, coffee, olive oil, and in green, leafy, and yellow vegetables," he said.
The women in Lucas' study also ate white bread, breakfast cereal, pasta, bagels, muffins, white rice, and pancakes.
In the 12-year study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined the diets of 43,000 women and their risk of depression. The women had no previous history of depression.
The findings showed that women who consumed an inflammatory diet (which was apparently high-carb and included lots of processed food) were 29% to 41% more likely to be diagnosed or treated for depression than those who stuck to a healthier diet. It's unclear what the "healthier" diet was.
Dr. Lucas said the press has exaggerated his research to suggest that eating pasta causes depression, but the main thrust of his study is that an inflammatory diet (which many physicians agree is high-carb) is linked to depression as well as to other degenerative diseases.
Other medical experts agree that a high-carb diet causes inflammation, which they say leads to obesity, Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, ADHD, dementia and cancer. And ground-breaking research from Dr. Dominic D'Agostino of the University of South Florida indicates that a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet starves cancer.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lucas underscored that a major point of his study is that diet plays a key role not only in physical health, but in emotional well-being.