Bribing kids to study in exchange for their favourite ice cream, targeting your elder sister to finish up some chores for you luring her with her favourite pizza or even getting your friend to come up with a project idea in exchange for your mom’s yummy parathas are in practice everywhere. If you notice, all the foods offered as bribes are mostly processed or fried foods that are loved by one and all. Vegetables or fruits occupy a place nowhere in this category of choices. Try giving your kid boiled broccoli as a treat for their good behaviour and all the goodness would evaporate into thin air immediately. Food, the very source of sustenance and nutrients has been made cheaper and cheaper (in terms of quality and health perspective) by using it as a means for procuring various other things. Angry, sad or happy we immediately reach out for a chocolate bar while there are some others who simply resist eating anything all through the day just to show off their feelings and unhappiness. Whom are we trying to punish here?
Science has never disappointed us and even the most ignorant of individuals must be aware of the fact that fruits and vegetables offer a plethora of nutrients helping individuals become healthier and fitter. Yet there are not many who try heartfully to fulfil the daily required five portions of fruits and vegetables consumption.
Advancements have made our life easier and simpler but the very same advancements have also ruined our health to a greater extent. Obesity and overweight rules the world, stress is omnipotent and depression rates are taking the uphill path. There might be several reasons behind depression including genetic origin, some specific event, certain circumstances and unavoidable happenings such as death or lifestyle choices. By lifestyle choices, it also includes the food we eat, the physical activity we do and the kind of life that we choose to live. There is no doubt that consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and proteins are essential constituents of a healthy life but upcoming data and research now show that healthy eating is advantageous not only to physical health but also to mental health. On the other hand, consuming unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, sodium and fats increase the risk of depression as the brain is deprived of the essential nutrients and the gut also becomes the origin for bad bacteria.
Well-being has until now been measured in terms of economic stability, personal achievements and social interaction and food as a resource for well-being has been given little attention till date. A study of more than 12,000 Australians showed that the advantages of eating a produce-rich diet extended beyond physical health. The study showed that for every added daily portion of produce consumed the happiness level increased slightly. When an individual consumed 8 portions of fruits and vegetables a day they gained as much satisfaction in life as someone who had procured a job after being unemployed.
The future is not far off when depression patients not only are recommended to visit a therapist for clearing out their mental illness but are also requested to meet a nutritionist who can correct their lifestyle and impart knowledge on the foods that must be consumed for mental well-being. There is a study on 67 depressed patients each of whom were split randomly into two groups-one group received nutritional counselling and the other group received one-on-one support where individuals were assigned to keep them company. At the end of the study period, it was seen that the group that changed its diet felt significantly more happier compared to the other group (https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2019/01/26/food-makes-you-happy-a-healthy-diet-improves-mental-health/#11e3361226f8). There are imaging studies that show that brains of people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet seem to be younger, have larger volumes and are metabolically more active than that of people who eat a Western-style diet. They are at a 33% decreased risk of suffering from depression compared to others due to their increased intake of fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds.
So, even though you might not need the superpowers of all the fibre and protein the effect of nutritious food on happiness quotient is more than enough to make individuals take better efforts to eat their daily share of produce. Refrain from indulging in doughnuts, baked goods and other processed foods for both short-term and long-term benefits. This will help to increase the nutrients that go to the brain and the good bacteria that grow in the gut!
Can What We Eat Affect How We Feel? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/well/eat/food-mood-depression-anxiety-nutrition-psychiatry.html
Here’s How Food Can Influence Your Mood: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/how-food-influences-your-mood/articleshow/70788338.cms
Boosting Happiness Through Fruits & Vegetables: https://www.readersdigest.co.in/health-wellness/story-news-from-the-world-of-medicine-124371
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.