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A link between food and mood

You are what you eat. In fact, your mood depends on the food you eat.

Researchers from Binghamton University in New York have found that mood in young adults (18-29) seems to be dependent on food that increases the availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain such as meat.

Mood in mature adults (over 30 years) may be more reliant on food that increases the availability of antioxidants such as fruits and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the sympathetic nervous systems (coffee, high glycemic index and skipping breakfast).

The major finding of the study was that diet affected mental health in different age groups.

“Mood in young adults appears to be sensitive to the build-up of brain chemicals,” says Professor Lina Begdache.

“Regular consumption of meat leads to a build-up of two brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) known to promote mood. Regular exercise leads to a build-up 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.”

According to Begdache the moods in mature adults seems to be more sensitive to the 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.

“With ageing, 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.”

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