College Honors Program

Date of Creation


Document Type




First Advisor

Prof. John F. Axelson


Although it is well established that inflammation contributes to cardiovascular disease (CVD), this thesis considers the potential for dietary-induced inflammation to also play a role in the development of depression. Even though the association between inflammation and depression was initially proposed over 100 years ago, treatment of depression has focused on psychopharmacological and psychotherapy. In addition to the increases in the chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death, including CVD, diabetes, and several forms of cancer, consumption of meat, dairy, and highly processed foods have also increased dramatically in recent decades. The resulting Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is highly inflammatory and is known to play a significant role in the etiology of CVD. In contrast, a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet reduces the body’s inflammatory response. Recognizing there are many factors contributing to these complex conditions, is it possible that a WFPB diet that has been shown to prevent, and in some instances, reverse CVD also has the potential to play an important role in reducing the suffering of those diagnosed with depression?


Readers: Noah C. Berman, Xiaoduo Fan