Your mood depends on the food you eat, and what you should eat changes as you get older

December 11, 2017, Binghamton University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

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 (18-29) seems to be dependent on food that increases availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain (meat). However, mood in (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, and skipping breakfast).

"One of the major findings of this paper is that diet and dietary practices differentially affect in young adults versus mature adults," said Begdache. "Another noteworthy finding is that young adult mood appears to be sensitive to build-up of brain chemicals. Regular consumption of meat leads to build-up of two brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) known to promote mood. Regular exercise leads to build-up of these and other neurotransmitters as well. In other words, 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 that activates the stress response (such as coffee and too much 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 . There is a gender difference in brain morphology which may be also sensitive to dietary components, and may potentially explain some the documented gender-specific risk, said Begdache.

The paper, "Assessment of Dietary Factors, Dietary Practices and Exercise on Mental Distress in Young Adults versus Matured Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study," was published in Nutritional Neuroscience.

Explore further: Mental distress common in survivors of teen, young adult CA

More information: Lina Begdache et al, Assessment of dietary factors, dietary practices and exercise on mental distress in young adults versus matured adults: A cross-sectional study, Nutritional Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1411875

Related Stories

Mental distress common in survivors of teen, young adult CA

November 23, 2016
(HealthDay)—Survivors of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer are more likely to have mental distress than individuals without cancer, but most do not talk to mental health professionals, according to a study published ...

New Zealand blackcurrants good for the brain

June 24, 2015
Research has shown that New Zealand blackcurrants are good for keeping us mentally young and agile, a finding that could have potential in managing the mental decline associated with aging populations, or helping people with ...

Being on a zero-hours contract is bad for your health

July 6, 2017
Young adults who are employed on zero-hours contracts are less likely to be in good health, and are at higher risk of poor mental health than workers with stable jobs.

Young drivers who take risks on the road have a greater risk of mental health problems

May 16, 2011
Young adults who take risks when driving are more likely to experience psychological distress, including mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, reveals research published ahead of print in Injury Prevention.

Unhealthy diets linked with mental health of children

November 7, 2014
Children and adolescents who ate foods high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and processed foods appear to experience more depression and low moods, suggests a new systematic research review in the American Journal ...

Vitamins and minerals can boost energy and enhance mood

July 16, 2013
Vitamin and mineral supplements can enhance mental energy and well-being not only for healthy adults but for those prone to anxiety and depression, according to a July 15 panel discussion at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists ...

Recommended for you

New research helps to instill persistence in children

September 19, 2018
Encouraging children "to help," rather than asking them to "be helpers," can instill persistence as they work to fulfill daily tasks that are difficult to complete, finds a new psychology study.

Close intercultural romantic relationships and friendships can boost creativity

September 19, 2018
You've worked abroad. You've lived abroad. But have you had a close friendship or romantic relationship with a person from a culture drastically different from your own?

The 'real you' is a myth – we constantly create false memories to achieve the identity we want

September 19, 2018
We all want other people to "get us" and appreciate us for who we really are. In striving to achieve such relationships, we typically assume that there is a "real me". But how do we actually know who we are? It may seem simple ...

Mindfulness meditation: 10 minutes a day improves cognitive function

September 19, 2018
Practising mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes a day improves concentration and the ability to keep information active in one's mind, a function known as "working memory". The brain achieves this by becoming more efficient, ...

Why the brain struggles to get off the sofa

September 18, 2018
About 30% of adults and 80% of teenagers today do not meet the minimum levels of daily physical activity for staying healthy, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Previous studies have already demonstrated ...

Do we trust people who speak with an accent?

September 18, 2018
You are in a strange neighbourhood, your cell phone's dead, and you desperately need to find the closest garage. A couple of people on the street chime in, each sending you in opposite directions. One person sounds like a ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.