Groundbreaking Study: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Could Be The Key To Happiness
Countless studies have proven fruits and vegetables help to slow down the aging process and reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, macular degeneration, bowel disorders and other chronic diseases. Many of those effects aren’t immediately observable however, which makes it easier for us to shun fruits and vegetables. Recently though, a study found that eating more fruits and vegetables actually increases our happiness and wellbeing, and the effects take place almost immediately.
Researchers from the University of Warwick, UK and the University of Queensland, Australia examined the effects of consuming extra fruits and vegetables (up to 8 servings daily) on the psychological wellbeing of Australian adults. The study was conducted during the years 2007, 2009 and 2013 and included 12,385 randomly selected participants. In order to determine the psychological impact of increasing fruit and vegetable intake, the researchers collected data each year through a combination of face-to-face interviews and self-completion questionnaires. To make sure increases in wellbeing were actually linked to increased fruit and veggie intake and not separate factors, they took into account (and made statistical adjustments for), things such as personal life circumstance changes and fluctuations in income.
The researchers found a drastic improvement in the psychological wellbeing of the adults who increased their fruit and vegetable consumption, with the participants reporting “an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment.” The researchers found that the happiness effect was cumulative, meaning the more fruits and vegetables that were consumed, the greater the rise in happiness levels. The increase in happiness and psychological wellbeing were noticed almost immediately and substantial benefits were observed within just 24 months. According to study author Andrew Oswald, “Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health. People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later. However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.”
This wasn’t the first study linking fruit and vegetable intake to increased wellbeing either. In 2014, scientists in New Zealand conducted a study that found that eating fruits and vegetables caused people to flourish and experience higher levels of curiosity, creativity, and overall positive emotions. The link in the study was noticed almost instantly, with a high intake of fruits and vegetables resulting in improved emotional wellbeing the very next day.
The exact reason why consuming more fruits and vegetables increases wellbeing was not examined in these studies; however, the psychological benefits likely stem from multiple factors. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is nutrient deplete, and most of us are nutrient deficient. Increasing fruit and veggie consumption helps to provide our bodies with essential nutrients (such as B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and antioxidants), which are required for optimizing the production of happiness neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) such as serotonin and dopamine.
Another possible explanation is that a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, and low in processed foods and sugars, helps healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the gut to flourish, and the health of your gut directly impacts your brain chemistry and the health of your brain. The increased fruit and veggie intake may also help promote healthy weight loss and optimal physical fitness, which in-turn increases mental and emotional wellbeing. Finally, according to a Harvard Health study, carotenoids, which are antioxidant-dense compounds found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, appear to increase optimism and happiness levels, perhaps because antioxidants protect important brain cells from free radical damage.
Changing How We View Fruits and Veggies
These findings prove once again that fruit and vegetable consumption shouldn’t be viewed as an unnecessary chore; it should be considered a vital investment in your future health, happiness and well-being. If you believe they cost too much, think of the future savings on healthcare that you will benefit from. If your excuse is that they take too long or too much effort to prepare, think about the increase in vitality and longevity that you will receive from consuming them. Finally, if your excuse is that you simply don’t like the taste, then invest in a healthy cookbook such as – “Simply Healthy – The Delgado Diet Cookbook” (http://www.delgadonaturals.com/books-and-media/), the delicious recipes in it are sure too delight even the most discerning of taste buds.