Change Your Diet, Change Your Mood: Weighing the Evidence

High-fat diets induce insulin resistance and obesity via production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in multipotent stem cells (Cortez et al., 2013), interleukin-6 (IL-6) in fat (Matsubara et al., 2012) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) in muscle, liver, and fat tissue (Borst & Conover, 2005). 

IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α are all signaling cytokines produced by an activated immune system.

All you need to know about cytokines is that they are secreted by certain immune cells and they have an effect on other body cells. They essentially keep the inflammatory processes going (Cameron & Kelvin, 2003).

These immune-mediated cytokines likely influence personality traits, especially if diet-induced inflammation is habitual.

Elevations in IL-6, TNF-α, and/or c-reactive protein (CRP, synthesized by the liver in response to general, non-specific  inflammation), are more commonly found in hostile-prone individuals (Suarez et al., 2002; Coccaro, 2006; Ranjit et al., 2007; Brydon et al., 2010; Janicki-Deverts et al., 2010; Mwendwa et al., 2013). This means that if you are easily upset and angered, there might be a biological basis rooted in inflammation.

A Mediterranean diet, because of its anti-inflammatory nature, reduces IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α (Caughey et al., 1996; Chrysohoou et al., 2004), and is a therapeutic approach to decrease “sickness behaviors” like hostility/rage and/or depression-like symptoms.

It is possible that sample characteristics of a population—age, sex, and socioeconomic status—influence the association between hostility and the inflammation we see (Graham et al., 2006; Elovainio et al., 2011; Demarble et al., 2014). For example, individuals with hostile or aggressive behavior have enhanced cardiovascular reactivity to stress (Smith et al., 2004; Chida & Hamer, 2008), and this enhanced reactivity to stressful situations can contribute to higher concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines (Black & Garbutt, 2002). 

These authors suggest that more frequent and spiked increases in proinflammatory cytokines might accelerate a wide range of age-related illnesses. In other words, hostile relationships impact human physiology, setting the stage for disease later in life.

Three causal pathways are consistently shown: 

  1. Inflammation impacts emotional state
  2. Emotional state impacts inflammation
  3. Bidirectional relationship between inflammation and emotional state 

Anti-inflammatory diets, in combination with lessened reactivity to stress and supportive social interactions, likely reduce aggressive behaviors, depressive-like syndrome, and general anxiety.


Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health

Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health team of experts work to help patients rid their body of inflammatory cytokines produced from the diet. They’re always ready to share their expertise on this commonly misunderstood disease. We collaborate closely together bringing the best in evidence-based Eastern and Western medicine. We believe that since each person is unique, their treatment plan should be personalized to them. To book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.

Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is one of U.S.'s top leading integrative functional medical physicians and the founder of San Francisco' top ranked medical center, SF Advanced Health. Her well-experienced holistic healthcare team collaborates together to deliver whole-person personalized care and combines the best in Western and Eastern medicine. By being an expert of cell function, Dr. Bhandari defines the root cause of illness and is able to subside any disease within weeks to months. She specializes in cancer prevention and reversal, digestive & autoimmune disorders. Dr. Bhandari received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1997 and Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001 from West Virginia University. She the completed her Family Medicine residency in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts and joined a family medicine practice in 2005 which was eventually nationally recognized as San Francisco’s 1st patient-centered medical home. To learn more, go to

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