10 popular fruits and vegetables that boost your mood
Posted on May 17, 2017
We all know that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables is vital for optimal physical health, but what about our mental health? Will a trip to the local greengrocer help to reduce symptoms of mental illness as well? It certainly will.
At least one in 20 Australian adults suffer from mental illness each year and 45% of us will experience depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or some other form of mental illness at some point in our lives. Like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, mental illness may require medical intervention however a good diet can play a role in prevention and/or reducing existing symptoms. Scientists today believe that depression is not just a brain illness, but rather a whole body condition arising from low grade inflammation and a poor functioning immune system. If we reduce the inflammation by eating a healthy diet, we strengthen our immune function and reduce symptoms of mental ill-health.
It sounds simplistic but studies do show that this simple approach has worked for at least 30% of sufferers.
Researchers at the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University compared two groups of patients who were both suffering from major depressive disorders. The first group were prescribed a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and wholegrains. The second group maintained their existing diet and received weekly social support. After 12 weeks only 8% of those who received social support reported an improvement in their symptoms, compared to 30% of those on the healthy diet who reported a significant improvement in both their mood and symptoms.
Scientists attribute it to our gut function and the pathways that connect the gut to our brains. Gut function is dependent on the amount and quality of gut bacteria we produce. A good diet that is rich in fibre and natural prebiotics, helps the good bacteria in our guts to thrive. Prebiotics are used as fuel for beneficial bacteria in our intestines and provide the energy they need to maintain a strong immune function, reduce inflammation and promote healthy brain cells. Prebiotics such as fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin are indigestible forms of starch found in many root vegetables and foods shown below. Other fibrous foods can also be fermented in the gut and metabolised by our intestinal bacteria in the same way that prebiotics can.
Top 10 good mood fruit and veg fruit
How much should I eat?
While the recommended daily intake of fresh vegetables and fruit is 5 and 2. The researchers on the trial encouraged participants to eat 6 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit in addition in addition to wholegrains, nuts, good fats and lean protein.
While researchers at theFood and Mood Centre recommend consuming 50 g fibre a day, those people who are unaccustomed to eating this amount should build up to this amount slowly otherwise they are likely to experience abdominal bloating, wind and discomfort.