In the Middle Ages, people were well aware that food can affect their mood. If they were depressed they’d eat elderflowers, dates, and quince. As sedatives, they used chicory and lettuce.
However, over time, humanity forgot that food can have a huge impact on the brain. Modern-day studies have found a strong link between bad food and high risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Research on food and mood change, though, has been very scarce if non-existent.
A group of U.S. researchers planned to change that. For their study, they analyzed the eating habits and mood changes in dozens of adults aged 30 or younger.
The research revealed that participants who ate junk food three times per week or more had a higher risk of mental distress than their peers who didn’t consume so much fast food.
Junk Food and Meat Bad for the Mood
Researchers explained that junk food is packed with saturated fats, trans fats, and omega-6 fats which can spur the inflammation within the body. A high level of inflammatory processes has been tied to a cohort of mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
- Study participants who consumed meat up to three times per week, which researchers deemed low consumption, were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues.
- The “feelgood” sensation one gets after a steak or other dish containing meat is triggered by a chemical called tryptophan which is related to serotonin.
The study also showed that for adults in their 30s or older, reducing the amount of carbohydrates and boosting the fruit intake can lower the risk of depression and anxiety. This is because fruits are a rich source of antioxidants which shield the brain against damage and degenerative processes.
Study authors couldn’t explain while lowering carbohydrate intake would benefit the brain since carbs are known to boost serotonin levels.
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