Pro-inflammatory diet and depressive symptoms in the healthcare setting

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Background: Depression is a highly prevalent disease affecting more than 350 million people and has recently been associated with low-grade chronic inflammation. The role of diet in the development of a pro-inflammatory state was demonstrated in a recent study that found a high Empirical Dietary Inflammatory Index (EDII) score was associated with increased concentrations of circulating plasma inflammatory markers. It is becoming increasingly clear that diet and depression are linked, but the relationship itself has not been determined with absolute certainty. Pharmacologic and device assisted therapies are considered our most advanced treatments for major depressive disorder, though numerous studies suggest that they are not sufficient. Exploring the relationship of a pro-inflammatory diet and depressive symptoms is crucial for a holistic, evidenced-based approach to treating depression. Methods: Our study investigated this association using the EDII to evaluate the inflammatory potential of diet and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to score depression among healthcare personnel. Results from 631 participants were collected for analysis using REDCap software. Results: High PHQ-9 scores and high EDII scores were significantly correlated (F = 18.32, p < 0.0001) even when accounting for gender, psychiatric diagnosis, physical exercise, and spiritual exercise. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that anti-inflammatory diets can play a key role in the treatment of depression.




Belliveau, R., Horton, S., Hereford, C., Ridpath, L., Foster, R., & Boothe, E. (2022). Pro-inflammatory diet and depressive symptoms in the healthcare setting. BMC Psychiatry, 22(1).

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