It is said that you are in the best of health only if you have a healthy body, mind and soul. These three components are essential in bringing a balance to your life and keep you happy and strong. While we commonly pay heed to our physical state of being, our mental health takes a back seat. Call it taboo or what, but must people shy away from discussing their mental state. In today’s times, with alarming rise in cases of depression, anxiety and stress, it is important to talk more about mental health to spread awareness, as well as take effective measures to keep the mind healthy too. And it all starts with following a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits.
Our diet plays an important role in our present well-being as well as for the years to come. A healthy diet can prevent many ailments such as the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. The regular consumption of fruits and vegetables particularly are also beneficial for our mental health. A new research done by the Department of Psychology at University of Otago in New Zealand found that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may improve psychological well-being in as little as 2 weeks.
Lead researcher Dr. Tamlin Conner and his team found that young adults who were given extra fruits and vegetables each day for 14 days ate more of the produce and experienced a boost in motivation and vitality. According to leading health experts, a healthy diet should constitute of two cups of fruits and about three cups of vegetables daily.
For their study, Conner and team enrolled 171 students aged between 18 and 25 for their study, and they were divided into three groups for 2 weeks. One group continued with their normal eating pattern, one was personally handed two additional servings of fresh fruits and vegetables (including carrots, kiwi fruit, apples, and oranges) each day, while the remaining group was given prepaid produce vouchers and received text reminders to consume more fruits and vegetables.
Participants were subjected to psychological assessments that evaluated mood, vitality, motivation, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and other determinants of mental health and well-being.
The researchers found that participants who personally received extra fruits and vegetables consumed the most of these products over the 2 weeks, at 3.7 servings daily, and it was this group that experienced improvements in psychological well-being. In particular, these participants demonstrated improvements in vitality, motivation, and flourishing.
Furthermore, no improvements were seen in symptoms of depression and anxiety in any of the groups. “The majority of research linking depression to dietary patterns has been longitudinal, meaning that possible differences in ill-being may be established over a much longer period of time rather than our brief 2-week period,” note the authors.