It is well known that eating fruits and vegetables is crucial for your physical health but new findings suggest eating your 5 a day could also be linked to better mental wellbeing.
The research was conducted by Dr Saverio Stranges at the University of Warwick in the UK and has found a strong correlation between mental wellbeing and fruit and vegetable intake.
The study found that 33.5% of participants with high mental wellbeing ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8% who ate less than one portion.
“The data suggests that the higher an individual’s fruit and vegetable intake, the lower the chance of them having low mental wellbeing,” says Dr Stranges.
Low mental wellbeing is commonly associated with mental illness and serious mental health problems such as depression. It is also closely linked to low self-esteem and low self worth.
High mental wellbeing on the other hand refers to a state in which people feel happy and function well in their day-to-day lives. Dr Stranges adds “optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships are also part of this mode of being”.
So could eating your 5 a day really be the answer to increasing your happiness?
The findings in this study add to the mounting evidence that fruit and vegetable intake is a crucial factor when it comes to enhancing mental wellbeing and that consuming the recommended 5 a day could well lead you down a happier path.
However Proffessor Berk of Deakin University’s school of medicine stresses that we shouldn’t single out specific food types as cure-alls for mental or physical illnesses.
He warns, “vast amounts of fruits and vegetables are never going to compensate for major deficiencies in other areas”. Pointing towards a healthy balanced diet as a more sustainable option.
It is also important to consider that mental illness and low mental wellbeing is associated with a variety of causes and risk factors that are often unavoidable, such as genetics or childhood trauma.
Whilst some factors associated with mental health issues may be unavoidable, you do have control over what you choose to eat and it seems eating your 5 a day could make a significant difference.
By BB Psychologist Sophie Hughes
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