The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) researchers report that childhood adversity is relatively common, often co-occurs with multiple types of exposures, and has a dose-response relationship to many leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. Prolonged exposure to stress during early brain development can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress that disrupts brain functioning associated with depressive symptoms. Flavonoids may protect the brain through anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and additional mechanisms to assist in the survival, maintenance, and growth of neurons. Thus, flavonoids may buffer depressive symptoms after ACEs exposure. In the current longitudinal study, we will examine the relationship between ACEs, perceived stress, depression, and flavonoid intake while controlling for demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, education, difficulty meeting expenses, energy). The study sample consisted of 6404 (67.4% female, 67.9% white, Mage = 61.9, SD = 12.7) participants who completed the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2), and both waves of the Biopsychosocial Religion and Health Study (BRHS). The study aim was to examine whether early chronic stress exposure leads to stress sensitivity and depressive symptoms that can be ameliorated with dietary flavonoids. No studies to date have examined the relationship between dietary flavonoids and mental health after stress risk exposures. Study findings indicate that perceived stress significantly mediated the relationship between ACEs and depressive symptoms; and flavonoids significantly moderated the relationship between perceived stress and depressive symptoms; higher consumption of flavonoids was associated with less depressive symptoms after ACE exposure. More human studies are needed to understand the relationship between flavonoids and mental health and whether diet is sufficient to produce the positive effects found in clinical studies.
School of Behavioral Health
Kelly R. Morton
Grace J. Lee
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Major Depression; Protective Factors; Symptoms; Polyphenol; Childhood Adversity; Perceived Stress
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Tan, Alison, "Adverse Childhood Experiences and Depressive Symptoms: Protective Effects of Dietary Flavonoids" (2020). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 1659.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives