Certain foods, when consumed in excess, can cause significant changes in the body's neurotransmitters (or signaling messages), to the point that you become dependent on junk food every time you feel depressed. Junk food can hinder the signaling of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (the hormones of happiness). This can lead to depression and other mental health disorders. In addition to depression, excessive consumption of fast food is linked to anxiety symptoms.
The refined carbohydrates found in many fast food products can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Extremely low blood sugar levels can cause panic attacks, insomnia, and other anxiety symptoms. In addition, a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in fried foods can cause the brain to mimic anxiety symptoms. These are the best (and worst) foods for calming anxiety.
Are you feeling anxious, depressed, or just having a day that isn't healthy for your mind? Ultra-processed foods could be the culprit. New research shows that people who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods are likely to experience symptoms of poor mental health, such as anxiety and depression. So yes, processed foods can cause anxiety. In their experiment, while there was no change (positive or negative) in how participants felt good, those who felt depressed felt worse after eating junk food.
However, sugary and ultra-processed junk food can cause inflammation in the brain and increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and other chronic diseases. Interestingly, ultra-processed foods account for 70% of all packaged foods in the U.S. And up to 60% of all the calories Americans consume. In short, you're eating junk food that has no nutritional value but that can harm your mental health.
The sodium benzoate in junk food can cause a pleasant “high”, leading to hyperactivity or nervousness. People who tend to eat a lot of junk food or fast food waste more than those who take the time to prepare meals. You might think it's a good idea to eat junk food when you're feeling depressed, but Penn State researchers have found the opposite.