Does our nutrition affect us psychologically

Healthy diet, healthy psyche? Researchers know that

Can a wrong diet also trigger mental suffering - whereas the right one promotes psychological well-being? Doctors have researched how diet affects our mental life.

How diet affects our psyche

Colorful, fresh and delicious: Friends of fruit and vegetables appreciate the versatile vital substance bombs for many reasons. The latest studies now also prove the effect on our psyche. Happiness and wellbeing can actually be increased by consuming fruits and vegetables frequently, researchers found.

Is a positive attitude towards life edible?

We are what we eat. And that is not only reflected in the condition of bones, muscles, metabolism and organs, but also in our mood. Numerous studies have examined the influence of certain foods on our psyche in the last decade. The essential aspects are:

  • Senses: Smell and taste are closely linked to memories and sensations (anticipation, security, disgust, etc.)
  • Hormone control: through the ingestion of food, e.g. B. are needed for serotonin synthesis
  • The gut-brain axis: Bacteria in the intestine communicate with the brain by producing psychoactive messenger substances
  • Effects of food ingredients directly on the brain: z. B. Chocolate and marijuana contain substances that have a similar effect

The more fruits and vegetables, the better mental well-being

In addition to many already proven benefits for our physical health, new studies have now also shown the influence of diet on our psychological well-being and on our satisfaction. Every person can increase their satisfaction and well-being with frequent fruit and vegetable consumption - and that in a short time. This is shown by a new study with the proverbial name “Lettuce be happy” 1. from England, analyzing data from over 40,000 Britons. The result of the direct effect on our psyche through the consumption of fruit and vegetables was still tenable even when other lifestyle factors such as age, income, marital status, employment status and level of education were taken into account.

The cause of the positive effect from frequent consumption of fruit and vegetables has not yet been clearly established. Scientists suspect that inter alia Antioxidants and breakdown products of complex carbohydrates act directly on our brain. In addition, there are no negative effects that are caused by a "western style diet" if a lot of plant-based fresh foods are consumed instead.

The scientists therefore explicitly emphasize that causal relationships require further clarification and summarize for the time being: People who consume a lot of fruit and vegetables report greater psychological well-being and greater satisfaction than others. The quantity is directly decisive.

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A Mediterranean diet can relieve depression

Diet also has a significant impact on people with depression. In 2017, Australian scientists entered the randomized case-control SMILES study2. deal with the question of how nutrition and depression are related. The subjects suffered from moderate to severe depression. In the study, the participants were divided into two groups: maintaining their previous unhealthy diet and switching to a Mediterranean diet. The result was that the group who followed the Mediterranean diet perceived a significant improvement in their depressive illness after 12 weeks. The following foods in particular have been added to or removed from the menu:

  • More: Olive oil legumes fruits and vegetables fish whole foods
  • Fewer: White flour, refined sugar, soft drinks, highly processed products such as sausages, fried foods, sweets

Do white bread, fries, and sugar make you aggressive?

Unfortunately, prison inmates often access precisely these foods every day and leave fruits and vegetables untouched. Scientists at Oxford University dared to suggest that increased vitamin intake could help reduce aggression and violent behavior in prisons. They were right: the results of the study3. (carried out with male test subjects between 18 and 21) showed that a good supply of vitamins and trace elements reduced the violent incidents by approx. 37% compared to the group with standard meals. Repeated experiments in other institutions always led to the same positive result. But how many fruits and vegetables are actually healthy for us?

Sugar Free: How To Eat Less Sugar.

Fruit and vegetable consumption in Germany: “5 a day” are no longer relevant

"5 a day". The DGE and WHO have long recommended two servings of fruit (approx. 250 g) and three servings of vegetables (approx. 400 g) per day. The rationale for this recommendation is based on reducing the risk of various cancers and other chronic diseases with frequent consumption of fruit and vegetables. But these numbers are not reached by the majority of Europeans. Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, published the following figures as the result of a health survey in 2014:

  • only 14.1% of the EU eats the recommended 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day

  • only 9.9% of Germans eat the recommended 5 servings!

Fruit and vegetables protect our body: "10 a day" are better

Especially in connection with tumor diseases, the importance of fruit and vegetables in the daily diet is widely researched and the results are sometimes controversial. The large European long-term study EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) 4 explores the relationship between Diet and cancer or chronic diseases. Experts agree that malnutrition affects 30-40% of cancers and is the main factor alongside smoking. Fruit and vegetables have a protective effect against stomach, intestinal and lung cancer. The protective effect of fruits and vegetables has also been proven in cardiovascular diseases.

Many scientists consider the recommendation “5 a day” to be out of date and recommend 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

In a meta-analysis, the researchers examined how much fruit and vegetables people have to consume in order to achieve maximum protection against diseases and premature death from their consumption. With the result that the recommendation has to be doubled in reality. Fruits and vegetables reduce the cholesterol level and blood pressure, increase the functionality of the immune system and prevent DNA damage from the many antioxidants (reduction of the risk of cancer). The following effects were worked out in detail for 10 servings of fruit and vegetables / day:

  • Heart disease risk is reduced by 24%
  • Stroke risk is reduced by 33%
  • Cardiovascular disease risk is reduced by 28%
  • Cancer risk is reduced by 31%

My recommendation: focus on vegetables

With the 10-a-day recommendation, you should primarily increase your consumption of vegetables. Excessive consumption of fruit with a high sugar content over a longer period of time can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver in the long term due to the high calorie load. With the recommended 10 servings, the majority of the excess should be made up of vegetables (e.g. daily 7 servings of vegetables, 3 servings of fruit). Prefer fruits with a low glycemic index such as B. citrus fruits or berries, less bananas or sweet grapes. Physical stress also plays a role in the selection: athletes and people who work hard can easily consume more fruit with a lot of sugar / high calories. In short: the selection should be adapted to your lifestyle so that you can benefit optimally from the positive effects of fruits and vegetables.


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