Your Mood Depends on the Food You Eat
Diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus older adults, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, along with fellow Binghamton researchers, conducted an anonymous internet survey asking people around the world to complete the Food-Mood Questionnaire (FMQ), which includes questions on food groups that have been associated with neurochemistry and neurobiology.
Analyzing the data, Begdache and Assistant Professor of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Nasim Sabounchi found that mood in young adults (18-29) seems to be dependent on food that increases availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain (meat). However, mood in mature adults (over 30 years) may be more reliant on food that increases availability of antioxidants (fruits) and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the sympathetic nervous system (coffee, high glycemic index and skipping breakfast).
“One of the major findings of this paper is that diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus mature adults,” said Begdache. “Another noteworthy finding is that young adult mood appears to be sensitive to the buildup of brain chemicals. Regular consumption of meat leads to the buildup of two brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) known to promote mood. Regular exercise leads to buildup of these and other neurotransmitters as well. In other words, young adults who ate meat (red or white) less than three times a week and exercised less than three times week showed a significant mental distress.
“Conversely, mature adult mood seems to be more sensitive to regular consumption of sources of antioxidants and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the innate fight-or-flight response (commonly known as the stress response),” added Begdache. “With aging, there is an increase in free radical formation (oxidants), so our need for antioxidants increases. Free radicals cause disturbances in the brain, which increases the risk for mental distress. Also, our ability to regulate stress decreases, so if we consume food that activates the stress response (such as coffee and too many carbohydrates), we are more likely to experience mental distress.”
Begdache and her team are interested in comparing dietary intake between men and women in relation to mental distress. There is a gender difference in brain morphology that may also be sensitive to dietary components, and may potentially explain some the documented gender-specific mental distress risk, said Begdache.
This article has been republished from materials provided by Binghamton University. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Begdache, L., Chaar, M., Sabounchi, N., & Kianmehr, H. (2017). Assessment of dietary factors, dietary practices and exercise on mental distress in young adults versus matured adults: A cross-sectional study. Nutritional Neuroscience, 1-11. doi:10.1080/1028415x.2017.1411875
The number of young adults living in their own household has dropped dramatically in the last decades in the United States, and a growing proportion of young people will move back in with their parents at some point in time. These “boomerang” moves are associated with an increase in depressive symptoms, a recent MPIDR study suggests.
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