2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

The Sadness of Happy Meals

Posted 2/9/2010

Remember poor Morgan Spurlock, eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month in his documentary Super Size Me? As meal followed meal, lubricated with gallons of Big Gulps, he became fatter, his liver turned to a greasy mush, and he felt simply terrible. If you listened carefully to the voiceover, he also sounded fatigued…and depressed.

Now researchers reporting in the British Journal of Psychiatry confirm what many clinical nutritionists have known all along–that a diet of junk food can indeed trigger clinical depression. Scientists tracked the eating habits of 3,500 middle aged public servants (a decidedly British categorization) for five years, splitting them into two groups: those who ate primarily a junk-food/fast-food diet (processed foods, high in fat, refined carbs, and sugar) and those who ate reasonably close to a whole-food diet (high in fruit, veggies, fish, and whole grains).

The results of the study are enough to make you think twice before stifling your hunger pangs with any of the dozens of junky menu items that many Americans eat every single day of their lives.

Junk-food eaters had a 58% higher risk of depression, while the depression risk for whole-foods eaters was 26% lower.
That’s an impressive spread.

The physiology behind this goes back to the brain chemical serotonin, your factory installed stress-buffering system and the second whammy I wrote about in The Triple Whammy Cure (the other two being stress itself and hormones).

In order for your body to make feel-good serotonin, you need a steady supply of good quality protein. Why? When protein is digested, it breaks down into amino acids, one of which is tryptophan. Your body then converts tryptophan into serotonin.

In an earlier study, people deliberately placed on a low-tryptophan diet developed depression, which reversed itself when tryptophan was reintroduced.

A fast food diet, decidedly high in fats but low in high-quality protein (such as fish, eggs, and lean meats, but also beans, rice, corn, and wheat), will grind serotonin production to a halt. Life stresses will occur, as they always do, but with no adequate stress buffer, you’ll feel anxious, depressed, tired, and generally miserable. One of the stressors is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), also a consequence of eating junky food with scant nutritional value.

This mess soon spins out of control, your brain becomes desperate for a quick fix, and as a result you make a serious judgment error. You start craving more junk foods for the quick carb/sugar high. You gain weight and become even more depressed.

You don’t have to pull a Morgan Spurlock and try this fast-food diet on yourself. Just go into any McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut–any of them. Buy a bottle of water and just sit where you can watch people walk in. Direct your attention to the body shapes, complexions, and facial expressions of the adults. Note the kids may have little pot bellies and double chins, but anticipating free toys may look cheerful. Sit there long enough and you’ll want to start screaming, “Save yourselves! Get out of here before it’s too late!”

Remember you’re just there to observe. Finish your water, get thee to the grocery, go home, and cook up a nice pot of the minestrone soup we’re featuring as today’s healthy recipe. Pack the leftovers for future lunches. You’ll be healthier and happier as a result.

Leave a Comment


  1. rogers says:

    You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Ten Drugs Doctors Should Consider De-Prescribing

    Physicians use the word polypharmacy when a patient is taking five or more prescription drugs daily. A recent survey showed that half of women Medicare recipients were taking five or more drugs daily, and 12% of them were taking ten (!) or more. New patients frequently arrive at WholeHealth Chicago carrying bags stuffed like piñatas with prescription drugs and nutritional supplements, the latter recommended by Read More

  • Toxic Metals, Heart Disease, and Chelation Therapy

    In last week’s Health Tip I reviewed the well-researched health dangers of environmental toxic metals (also called heavy metals). They’ve always been a serious health risk, but with the Trump Administration’s recent rollbacks of clean air and water regulations we can expect even more trouble ahead. Statisticians predict an astonishing 160,000 unnecessary deaths over the next decade from the reversals of clean air and water Read More

  • Heavy Metal Toxicity and Your Health

    For those who were otherwise preoccupied that day long ago in high school chemistry, the heavy metals refer to a group of especially dense metals or metal-like substances (called metalloids) found in the environment. These metals–specifically lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum–can all be absorbed by your body and stored there. Our environment is already quite toxic (Trump’s EPA deregulations aren’t helping) and it’s getting Read More

This month, save 20% off all Metagenics Medical Foods

UltraMeal
UltraInflamX
UltraClear