What we eat can make a big difference in mental health. While it is true that we have all experienced the immediate consequences of eating an unhealthy meal: we feel slow, drowsy, inflamed, with less physical and mental performance, and even in a bad mood. Eating junk food from time to time is not the biggest problem, making it a lifestyle if it is! This is suggested by a recent study, in which researchers found the serious consequences for long-term health and well-being of eating an unhealthy diet. Which of course, go beyond weight or physical appearance, are directly related to mental health.
What did the study consist of? To test whether a personalized diet could lead to improvements in mood among men and women aged 30 and over, researchers at Binghamton University in New York asked study subjects to answer a questionnaire about their eating habits, physical activity and your mood. It is worth mentioning that the study was based on the observation of 322 women and 322 men, so it was a considerably large sample. The findings were published last May in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, initially without much news they demonstrated an unsurprising association between a healthy diet and its positive influence on general well-being. However, what was interesting was that they also discovered a significant link between unhealthy eating and bad mood, especially among the women participating in the study.
According to statements by Lina Begdache, lead author of the study and professor of health at Binghamton University and the lead author of the study: “We found that in unhealthy dietary patterns, the level of mental anguish was higher in women than in men, which confirmed that women are more susceptible to unhealthy eating than men. “
Another of the most relevant data of the study suggests the following: not all unhealthy eating habits are the same, especially when it comes to mental health. Researchers found that some food and drink options were more closely associated with a bad mood than others:
– Eating fast food and skipping breakfastare habits that were associated with worse scores in mood.
– Consumption excessive food with a high glycemic index, since they are characterized by rapidly increasing the level of sugar in the blood. In this group are foods such as refined carbohydrates: white bread, industrial pastries, French fries, commercial desserts and sugary foods.
Women were also more prone to report other side effects related to unhealthy food consumption. Finally, it is no secret to say that it is a lifestyle that increases the risk of suffering from numerous cardiovascular diseases, digestive, intestinal, liver conditions, diabetes and obesity. As an aside, it is important to mention that the study looked at correlation, not causality, so it is not clear whether food caused changes in mood. One of the possible theories could be that happier people are more likely to make healthier choices, while anxious or depressed people tend to seek comfort, through the consumption of less healthy foods.
On the other hand, as additional useful discoveries, the study authors found that fruits and vegetables (especially dark green leafy ones) are associated with mental well-being. They also included on the list foods such as nuts and dried fruits, fatty fish and seeds, which are often associated with a more positive mood. They also found that exercise can help counteract the mental side effects of an unhealthy diet, they associated it as a important factor in the psychological health of the participants. In fact, they verified through the initial questionnaires that both men and women who exercise regularly (even if it is low impact and little) tend to have better mental health than their more sedentary peers. This suggests that exercise could mitigate the psychological side effects of eating junk food, especially if you exercise regularly.
Although we can conclude that the fact of following an “unhealthy diet” is not an inevitable synonym of entering a state of depression, it is important to bear in mind that it is a compelling reason that increases the risk of mental health conditions over all in women of adulthood. It is also a clear general invitation to bet on the consumption of Whole foods, healthy and friendly to mental health.
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