Veggies: Good for your Gut; Good for your Mental Health!
The majority of people I see in clinic are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression (and often concurrent issues with their hormones and thyroid function). When tackling these things, I recommend a variety of different solutions, including, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines and most importantly, dietary changes!
Therefore, I love seeing studies such as this where we can see the benefit that dietary intervention can have on our mental health!
Published in the British Medical Journal Open in March, 2017, this is a longitudinal study of more than 60 000 Australians aged 45 years and over. The participants' fruit and vegetable consumption, lifestyle factors and psychological distress was measured at 2 time points, 2006-2008 and 2010.
The characteristics of the subjects that were associated with higher stress included: being female, being younger, having lower income and education, being overweight/obese, smoking, and being physically inactive.
- People who ate 3-4 daily serves of vegetables had a 12% lower risk of stress than those who ate 0-1 serves daily.
- People who ate 5-7 daily serves of fruit and vegetables had a 14% lower risk of stress than those who ate 0-4 serves daily.
- Women who ate 3-4 daily serves of vegetables had an 18% lower risk of stress than women who ate 0-1 serves daily.
- Women who ate 2 daily serves of fruit had a 16% cent lower risk of stress than women who ate 0-1 serves daily.
- Women who ate 5-7 daily serves of fruit and vegetables had a 23% cent lower risk of stress than women who ate 0-1 serves daily.
"This study shows that moderate daily fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with lower rates of psychological stress," said Dr Melody Ding of the University of Sydney's School of Public Health.
"It also reveals that moderate daily vegetable intake alone is linked to a lower incidence of psychological stress. Moderate fruit intake alone appears to confer no significant benefit on people's psychological stress."
"These new findings are consistent with numerous cross sectional and longitudinal studies showing that fruit and vegetables, together and separately, are linked with a lower risk of depression and higher levels of well-being assessed by several measures of mental health."
SO HOW MUCH IS A SERVE?
According to Australian Dietary Guidelines, a standard serve is approximately 75g of vegetables or 150g of fruit. For example:
- 1/2 cup cooked greens or orange veggies (broccoli, spinach, carrot, pumpkin)
- 1/2 dried or canned beans, peas, lentils
- 1 cup leafy or raw salad
- 1/2 a medium potato, sweet potato or taro
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
- 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums
- 1 cup diced or canned fruit (avoid added sugars)
NOTE: According to the study, fruit consumption alone was not associated with a lower risk of stress, so it's VITAL that you eat vegetables!
Remember to incorporate a variety of vegetables, of all different colours, every day!
References: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/3/e014201; http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/australian-dietary-guidelines-standard-serves
Zsuzsanna is a passionate naturopath with over 15 years' industry experience.
Having come from a corporate background herself, Zsuzsanna understands the demands of the busy, modern world we
live in, and is particularly passionate about helping busy people prevent burn out, and achieve their best health possible.
Zsuzsanna also has a special interest in mental health and uses functional pathology testing, together with nutritional and
herbal therapies, to provide holistic, mental health solutions.