The relationship between physical health and what you eat is well established, but still little is known about the connection between diet and mental health. A new study suggests there is a strong link.
We know that a diet high in saturated fats, processed foods, and excessive sugar can lead to a world of physical health problems, but a new study suggests that what we eat may have a strong link with our mental health, too.
Researchers from New York universities Binghamton and Stony Brook conducted an online survey of more than 2,600 participants across North America, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia, over five years.
They found that eating breakfast frequently in addition to higher levels of exercise were linked to improved mental wellbeing among young women aged 18-29, while eating breakfast had the opposite effect, i.e. higher mental distress, for women aged 30 and over.
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High caffeine intake and moderate-to-high fast-food consumption, meanwhile, were found to have a negative effect on mental distress among women of all ages.
The authors of the study noted, however, that diet and exercise cannot be considered in isolation; as they both have an impact on our overall wellbeing equally but for different reasons.
“Our results suggest that specific practices along with a consumption of a nutrient-dense diet are critical to promote mental wellbeing among young men and women,” the conclusion of the study said.
It’s also important to note that, while experts can agree on the basic criteria for a healthy diet is reasonably consistent–that is, a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit, veggies, protein, and low in salt, sugar, and processed foods–there will be variances in what each individual requires based on their age and activity level.