Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Can Boost Mental Health in Just Two Weeks
Your emotional health is partially dependent on what you eat. A new study shows increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables in the diet results in improved psychological wellbeing in two weeks.
We have all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat.” This means the quality of diet affects not only physical health but also thinking, emotional outlook, sleeping habits and every other aspect of wellness. The recent findings provide more evidence of this saying’s truth.
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Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake Improved Motivation and Vitality
Since studies in the past few years indicate fruit and vegetable intake improves mental health, researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand set out to further examine the link. They enrolled 171 students between the ages of 18 to 25 in the study, and divided them into the following three groups for a two-week experiment:
- One group ate their normal diet.
- Another group was personally given two additional servings of fruits and vegetables (FV) per day.
- The third group received prepaid produce vouchers and was encouraged via text messages (TM) to eat more fruits and vegetables.
At the beginning and end of the intervention period, the participants underwent psychological tests to evaluate symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as motivation, vitality and mood.
The individuals in the FV group consumed the most of these foods, averaging 3.7 servings per day. Although the TM group incorporated more cooked fresh produce into casseroles and meals, the FV group ate the foods mostly raw. The results showed only the FV group experienced boosts in motivation, vitality and flourishing, a term that refers to greater social-emotional wellbeing. These results are consistent with earlier studies that show the consumption of fresh fruit and raw vegetable salads produce a more optimal psychological effect than the consumption of cooked produce.
While no improvements were observed in depression and anxiety, the researchers felt this might stem from the study’s limitations, which included a short intervention period and a lack of more extensive mood testing.
Small Dietary Improvements Quickly Produced Benefits
Interestingly, the improvements in the participants were due to small increases in FV consumption. Their intake fell short of the minimum daily recommendation of at least five servings of FV, and it was far short of the seven to nine servings advised for optimal health. It’s noteworthy that even a small dietary improvement can quickly produce measurable positive effects.
“This is the first study to show that providing high-quality FV to young adults can result in short-term improvements in vitality, flourishing, and motivation,” the authors concluded. “Findings provide initial validation of a causal relationship between FV and well-being, suggesting that large-scale intervention studies are warranted.”
The research was published in the journal PLUS One.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.