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Diet May Affect Mood Differently at Different Life Stages

What you eat may help improve your mental health. A recent study suggests that dietary factors that improve mental health are different in younger years and later in life.


For this study, researchers used an anonymous internet survey that asked people worldwide to complete the Food-Mood Questionnaire. This questionnaire includes questions about consumption of food groups that are associated with neurochemistry and neurobiology.


After examining the data, the researchers determined that for people between the ages of 18 and 29, foods that increased the availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations, such as meat, resulted in improved mood. They also found that exercise did the same thing for this age group.


For people age 30 and older, improved mood was associated with consumption of high-antioxidant foods (such as fruit) and staying away from foods that activate the sympathetic nervous system, such as coffee, high glycemic index foods, and skipped breakfast. The researchers believe that the need for antioxidants increases as we age because free radical formation also increases as we age.


Researchers from Binghamton University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on December 11, 2017, in Nutritional Neuroscience.


Previous research has found that good nutrition has an impact on brain health. When we eat real food that nourishes us, it becomes the protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters that transfer information and signals between various parts of the brain and body. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. A diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins.

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