Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Eases Anxiety and Depression

depression diet anxiety

Americans have become so disillusioned about what's healthful that they aren't clearly seeing how their diet can contribute to their well being and mental health. More than ever before, people have been seeking out medical ways to ease their stress and anxiety because they are finding that eating more of certain foods is too simple a remedy --- until now.

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Diet And Mental Health Are Linked

Growing evidence suggests there’s a strong link between diet and mental health. Researchers in a study published in the British Medical Journal BMJ, aimed to investigate the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the prevalence and incidence of psychological distress in middle-aged and older Australians.

More: Change Of Diet Can Treat Depression

Psychological Distress Determined As Anxiety and Depression

A sample of 60,404 adults from New South Wales, Australia aged 45 years and older completed questionnaires from the start of the study from 2006–2008 through to follow-up in 2010. Psychological distress was assessed at both the beginning of the study and at follow-up using the validated Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), a 10-item questionnaire measuring general anxiety and depression. Psychological distress was defined as the presence of high-to-very high levels of distress. Usual fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed using short validated questions. The association between fruit and vegetable consumption at the beginning of the study and the prevalence or incidence of psychological distress was examined using logistic regression models.

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Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Lowers Incidence of Psychological Stress

At the start of the study, 5.6% of the subjects reported psychological distress. After an average 2.7year follow-up, 4.0% of those who did not report distress at the start of the study reported distress at follow-up. Fruit and vegetable consumption at the start of the study considered separately or combined was associated with a lower prevalence of psychological distress even after adjustment for lifestyle risk factors. Fruit and vegetable consumption at the start of the study, measured separately or combined, was associated with a lower incidence of psychological distress in minimally adjusted models. Most of these associations remained significant at medium levels of fruit and vegetable intake but were no longer significant at the highest intake levels of fruit and vegetable intake in fully adjusted models.

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Fruit and Vegetables More Protective in Women Than Men

This study is among the first to report associations between fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological well-being separately for men and women. Sex was a significant effect modifier of the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress. Researchers found that fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may be more responsive to the effects of fruit and vegetables. It is possible that there may be a true physiological difference between men and women, although a mechanism that could explain this difference remains unclear, or perhaps women more accurately report consumption of fruit and vegetables than men. However, these preliminary findings need to be confirmed by additional studies.

Overall researchers concluded that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may help reduce psychological distress in middle-aged and older adults. However, the association of fruit and vegetable consumption with the incidence of psychological distress requires further investigation, including the possibility of a "threshold effect" when fruit and vegetable consumption is increased to medium and higher amounts.


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