Eat more greens: Not eating enough fruits and veggies linked to higher body fat, anxiety
02/01/2022 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Eat more greens: Not eating enough fruits and veggies linked to higher body fat, anxiety

Fruits and vegetables are integral components of a healthy diet. If you don’t eat these foods, you might become deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. You might also develop digestive issues, such as bloating and constipation. Additionally, you’ll be more likely to develop certain health problems, such as anxiety.

All of that is according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In it, researchers looked at data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). The CLSA included nearly 27,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 85.

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The researchers found that for people who consumed fewer than three sources of fruits and vegetables per day, there was a 24 percent higher chance of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Meanwhile, in people with total body fat levels beyond 36 percent, the odds of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder were increased by over 70 percent.

Interestingly, the prevalence of anxiety disorders was affected heavily by various factors, such as gender, marital status and pre-existing health conditions.

For example, one in nine women had an anxiety disorder compared to one in 15 men. The prevalence of anxiety disorders was also higher among participants who had always been single than those living with their partners.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of anxiety disorders among people with at least three pre-existing health issues was fivefold higher than among people with no chronic conditions. Likewise, people with chronic pain also had double the prevalence of anxiety disorders than people without chronic pain.

Experts estimate that 10 percent of the global population will suffer from an anxiety disorder, which is a leading cause of disability. According to the researchers, their findings suggest that addressing health behaviors and diet may help lessen the burden of anxiety disorders among middle-aged and older adults.

Eating more fruits and veggies linked to less stress

In another recent study, researchers found that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked to less stress. In particular, they found that people who ate at least 470 grams (g) of fruits and vegetables (about two cups) daily had 10 percent lower stress levels than those who ate fewer than 230 g of fruits and vegetables daily.

In other words, people who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to be less stressed than those who don’t. Overall, these findings suggest that diet plays a key role in mental well-being.

Stress is a trigger for anxiety, which is why it’s important to learn how to manage it. As the study shows, higher intake of fruits and vegetables leads to less stress. Getting good-quality sleep, exercising regularly and listening to music are also great ways of dealing with stress.

How to eat more fruits and veggies

Eating enough fruits and vegetables daily as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet is key to avoiding anxiety and other health problems associated with low fruit and vegetable intake.

If you’d like to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, try the following strategies:

  • Add fruits and vegetables to your breakfast – Start your day by eating fruits and vegetables. Add a banana to your cereal, berries to your yogurt or vegetables to your omelet or scrambled eggs.
  • Make fruits and vegetables visible – Place a fruit bowl in the kitchen to encourage healthy snacking. You can also prepare raw vegetable sticks for snacking.
  • Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables – At mealtime, think of fruits and vegetables first, not protein. Experts recommend filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables first then filling the remaining half with grains and protein.
  • “Drink” your fruits and vegetables – Blend your fruits and vegetables into smoothies or juices. This strategy is particularly useful if you have a hard time eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Swap sweets and junk food for fresh fruits – Snack on fresh fruits instead of processed junk foods.

Eating fruits and vegetables daily as part of a healthy diet is a surefire way of maintaining optimal health. Start by filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables or replacing junk foods with fruits and vegetables.

Sources:

IntegrativePractitioner.com

ScienceDaily.com

LiveScience.com

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