The link between diet and mental health was ‘not fully understood at first,’ write researchers
According to a new study out of the UK, higher fruit and vegetable intake was associated with higher mental health scores among secondary school children.
“The relationship of diet and nutrition with mental health and well-being in children or adults is not fully understood, although the relevance of diet quality to physical health in relation to non-communicable disease morbidity and mortality is well established. , ” the authors wrote in the study published in association with Norwich Medical School BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.
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To conduct the study, researchers analyzed the Norfolk Children’s and Young People’s Health and Well-Being Survey, released in 2017, from more than 50 schools in Norfolk, UK, which included data from 7,570 secondary school children and 1,253 primary school children. .
The study authors found a strong association between nutrition and mental well-being among older secondary school children, although the analysis did not reveal such a link among primary school children, possibly due to portion sizes in self-reported data. because of little understanding.
Outcomes for secondary school children indicated a linear pattern between fruit and vegetable intake and mental well-being scores; Five or more parts were associated with greater mental health than parts 3-4 or 1-2. The largest portion size (5 or more) was associated with an increased wellness score of 3.73 compared to children reporting zero servings.
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What’s more, children who did not eat breakfast and only those who drank energy drinks scored 2.73 and 3.14 units less, respectively. Packed lunches were also associated with better mental health versus not eating lunch.
Researchers suggest a possible biological basis behind the link between nutrition and higher mental well-being; Nutrition is important in growth, growth and hormone metabolism, with “direct effects on many biological processes, including oxidative processes, inflammation and immunity, and brain signaling molecules”, with the authors writing, in part, that unhealthy diets cause inflammation, Patients struggling with depression are often high in, and insufficient intake of “magnesium, folate, and zinc” has been linked to depression and anxiety with long-chain n-3 fatty acids.
“Public health strategies and school policies must be developed to ensure that all children receive a good quality of life before and during school to optimize mental health and empower children to meet their full potential. available nutrition,” the study authors concluded.