New research findings suggest that one simple way to combat teen anxiety and depression is to eat healthy fresh foods.
The number of teens who experience anxiety and depression has spiked in the past few years since 2011. A recent study by researchers in New Zealand* suggests that increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables may improve mental health and well being in as little as 2 weeks.
USDA dietary guidelines recommend 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. A research study lead by Dr. Tamlin Conner of the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand included 171 young adults between the ages of 18-25. Half of the group was given 2 extra servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day for 14 days including carrots, kiwi, apples, and oranges. The other half continued on their normal diet. The research findings show that the group who ate the most fruits and vegetables (approximately 3.7 servings per day), experienced the most pronounced improvements in psychological well-being, especially improvements in “vitality and motivation”. The research team has released this statement:
“Providing young adults with high quality FV (fruits and vegetables), not texting them reminders to eat more FV and giving them a voucher, resulted in improvements in psychological well-being over a 2 week period.”
Eating processed foods regularly can increase your risk of depression by as much as 60%. Further compounding research points to gut inflammation as a root cause of depression. One of the quickest ways to address an imbalance in the digestive system is to adjust one’s diet. Specifically, eating real whole foods with a special focus on natural foods that can improve gut health.
7 tips to improve GI health naturally
1. Aim for 5-7 servings of fruits or vegetables or more each day
The easiest way to choose fresh foods over processed alternatives is to learn how to store fruits and vegetables so they remain fresh longer for you, keeping them fresh and easily accessible right at home.
2. Limit refined sugars
Especially processed fructose, gluten and dairy.
3. Avoid genetically engineered ingredients including artificial food additives
Be especially cautious of artificial sweeteners like aspartame which can wreak havoc on brain function. Both depression and panic attacks are known potential side effects of consuming aspartame. Some of the artificial colorings have been found to impact mood as well. Genetically engineered ingredients have been shown to have a negative impact on gut flora because they promote pathogens and decimate beneficial microbes in your digestive system.
4. Avoid foods loaded with glyphosate
Glyphosate has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals critical for mood control and proper brain function.
5. Eat fermented foods every day
Fermented foods have been shown to reduce social anxiety disorder in young adults. The more variety the better. Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, vinegar, miso, tempeh, kombucha, yogurt, cheese, sourdough bread all count as fermented foods. Coffee, tea, wine and beer make the fermented beverage list. Foods known as prebiotic foods nourish the healthy bacteria inside your GI tract. Common prebiotic foods are garlic, leeks, onion, dandelion greens and asparagus. In addition to improving gut health, fermented foods increase digestibility of foods, and can even increase nutrient content in certain foods.
6. Eat natural fiber-rich foods
Many fruits and vegetables contain plenty of fiber, especially leafy greens, flax, hemp and chia seeds, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, root vegetables, peas and beans.
7. Boost your intake of healthy fats
Make it a regular routine to include avocados, MCT oil, coconuts, coconut oil, butter and pastured egg yolks.
The easiest way to eat more fruits and vegetables is to keep produce fresh and easily accessible at home. Learn how to save your fruits and vegetables from spoiling too soon with a natural solution.
Why let good food go bad? If you hate finding moldy and rotted fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator, we recommend checking out the Fridge Fresh unit, a smart device that extends the life of your fresh fruits and vegetables up to 3 times longer. It’s the best invention for the refrigerator in the last 100 years!