A recent study by New Zealand doctors found that a raw food diet improved mental health and well-being.
Research from the University of Otago, published in Frontiers in psychology, surveyed more than 1,100 New Zealand young adults. The American researchers asked them questions about their sleep, exercise habits, diet, and mental health.
Lead author Shay-Ruby Wickham says the research team found that sleep quality, not quantity, was the strongest predictor of good mental health.
“This is surprising because sleep recommendations predominantly focus on quantity rather than quality. While we found that sleeping too little (less than eight hours) and sleeping too much (more than 12 hours) were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, sleep quality significantly outpaced amount of sleep in predicting mental health and wellness. being.”
“This suggests that quality of sleep should be promoted alongside quantity of sleep as tools to improve the mental health and well-being of young adults,” says Ms Wickham.
The researchers found that quality sleep, exercise, and a diet high in raw foods, in that order, was correlated with better mental health. These lifestyle factors consistently predicted better well-being in the young adults in the study.
The research team found that young adults who slept about 9.7 hours per night had the fewest symptoms of depression. Those who slept 8 hours a night had the greatest sense of well-being.
Doctors found that young adults who ate 4.8 servings of raw fruits and vegetables a day had the greatest well-being. On the other hand, those who ate fewer than two or more than eight servings had the least sense of well-being.
“Sleep, physical activity and a healthy diet can be considered as three pillars of health that could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults, a population where the prevalence of mental disorders is high and well-being is suboptimal”, Says Mrs. Wickham.
Lead author, Associate Professor Tamlin Conner from the Department of Psychology, says that most of the previous research studies these factors separately. This takes into account the three ‘pillars of health’, showing how all of them can improve well-being.
“We show that they are all important in predicting which young adults are thriving and which are suffering.”
While the study showed promising results, Conner says the findings only prove correlation, not causality.
“We do not manipulate sleep, activity or diet to test your changes in mental health and well-being. Other research has done that and found positive benefits. Our research suggests that a ‘holistic health’ intervention that prioritizes sleep, exercise, and fruit and vegetable intake together could be the next logical step in this research, ”he says.
Previous research shows the benefits of a raw food diet on mental health. An earlier study by Dr. Tamlin Conner in 2017 showed that young adults who ate a raw food diet he had better health. After eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables for two weeks, the volunteers showed more enthusiasm, motivation and vitality. Compared to those who did not consume the recommended amount of raw food, young adults had much better predictors of health.
How the doctors conducted the research
For the study, Dr. Conner and her team placed 171 adults who ate low amounts of fruits and vegetables into three groups:
– a control group
– a ‘momentary intervention’ group, where each person received a text message to eat more raw food and a food purchase voucher
– a fruit and vegetable intervention group, where the team gave the volunteers two additional servings of fruits and vegetables each day
The team asked participants to rate these three categories before and after the study:
– Negative and positive daily mood
– Vitality, flourishing and flourishing behaviors (curiosity, creativity, motivation)
– Anxious and depressive symptoms
Study Findings of a Greater Raw Food Diet
Among the three groups, only the participants in the latter group showed improvements in their mental health. They had increased vitality, flourishing and motivation in the two week trial period compared to the other groups. The participants in this group ate about four daily servings of fruits and vegetables, mainly apples, carrots, kiwis, and oranges.
While neither group reported dramatic changes in anxiety and depression symptoms, their overall well-being improved. The research team emphasizes that a person must follow a raw food diet for several months to alleviate mental health problems through nutrition. However, the study showed how consuming fresher, more whole foods in a short time could change positively.
The team concludes
“This is the first study to show that providing high-quality VF to young adults can result in short-term improvements in vitality, flourishing and motivation. The findings provide an initial validation of a causal relationship between VF and well-being, suggesting that large-scale intervention studies are warranted. “
Previous studies show how eat more fruits and vegetables it can result in better overall health. Surprisingly, about 90% of Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report found that most Americans eat fruits once a day and vegetables 1.7 times a day. However, the dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and at least 2 cups of vegetables a day.
The CDC says that increasing these numbers could mean reversing the chronic diseases that plague the United States. Studies consistently show that plant-rich diets are correlated with better overall health, as we mentioned earlier.
Countries where plants make up the majority of the diet tend to have lower reports of disease. The Blue Zone regions (Costa Rica, California, Italy, Japan and Greece) have the healthiest people in the world. While diets vary slightly in these regions, they all have one thing in common: tons of plants.
Try this experiment yourself to see how you feel. For two weeks, eat at least the recommended daily guidelines for fruits and vegetables. If you are feeling more vibrant and energetic, you can thank nature for bringing you better health!