Nutrition-wise blog

Can diet influence mental health?

By Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. April 5, 2017

A growing body of evidence suggests that what we eat not only influences our physical health but also our mental well-being.

Several studies have found that higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with better mental health, including lower odds of depression and psychological distress.

In a recent study, a moderate intake of fruits and vegetables — an average of 6 servings a day — had a protective effect in middle-aged and older women. The women had a 23 percent lower risk of psychological distress. Unexpectedly, women who had higher intakes and men regardless of intake level did not appear to have the same benefits.

This study leaves me wondering why fruits and vegetables might be protective in some cases but not others? Is there a threshold to benefit? What other factors are at play? What influence does choosing to eat nutritious foods have on one's well-being, both physical and mental?

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All of which are considered health promoting. Specifically, they may reduce inflammation, improve blood flow or repair damage. All of which may play a role in brain health.

At this point, that's enough for me. I'll eat my fruits and veggies. I believe they are good for me. I will also enjoy them and that will make me happy.

April 05, 2017