If You Want to Feel Happier, Eat THIS

Eating five a day may keep the blues away.

Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables--from apples to avocados--could be as beneficial for your mental health and well-being as it is for your physical health, according to researchers from England's University of Warwick Medical School.

And the opposite is also true. If you don't eat enough fruits and veggies, your mental health could decline.

The study: Led by Dr. Saverio Stranges, the team analyzed data from the Health Survey for England, which involved 14,000 participants aged 16 and older. Detailed information was collected on their mental and physical health, health-related behaviors, demographics and socio-economic characteristics. Mental well-being was assessed using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS),

The results:

  • 33.5 percent of those with high mental well-being ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8 percent who ate less than one portion.

  • 31.4 percent of those with high mental well-being ate three to four portions of fruits and veggies daily.

  • 28.4 percent of those with high mental well-being ate one to two portions a day.

  • While other health-related behaviors were found to affect mental well-being, it was only fruit and vegetable consumption and, oddly, smoking, that were consistently associated in both men and women. Alcohol intake and obesity were not associated with high mental well-being.

What is "high mental well-being"? While low mental well-being is strongly linked to mental illness and mental health problems, high mental well-being is more than the absence of symptoms or illness. It is a state in which people feel good and function well. Optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships with others are all part of this state. Mental well-being is important not only to protect people from mental illness, but also to protect people against common and serious physical diseases.

The study findings were published in the BMJ Open.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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