food

JUNK FOOD MEANS BAD MOOD

Avoid stress-induced splurges.

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In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE SCIENCE
During particularly stressful weeks, it’s easy to let your diet slip. But deviating from healthy foods will only make your bad mood last longer, suggests a new study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience

That’s especially true for women. Researchers analyzed data from 563 adults to see if there was a link between mental health and nutrition. They found that for women, but not for men, happiness depends on eating a balanced diet.
EXPERT INSIGHT
Filling up on nutrients (especially omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids) helps your brain regions communicate more smoothly, which puts you in a good mood, explains study author Lina Begdache, Ph.D., assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University in New York. But even a few days of bad eating can interrupt the flow—and your state of mind. 

Caffeine (which activates the stress response), fried fare (which promotes inflammation), and sugary and starchy foods (which cause a spike in blood sugar) can hit your mood especially hard, she notes. 

“Studies have shown that women’s brains have more neural connectivity between cortices, or brain regions, compared to men,” she says, which might explain why diet is so crucial for their mental health.
THE BOTTOM LINE
During times of stress, it’s especially important to keep your plate clean. Focus on a Mediterranean-style eating plan, which was most closely linked to wellbeing in the study.

Photo: Louise Samuelsen/thelicensingproject.com