Can we all agree that the one thing that gets us through migraine Mondays, horrifying hangovers, epic birthday or anniversary parties, and awkward first-time office events… is the food? No matter the occasion or even the venue, food, especially the special kind of greasy junk food, gets us through all social and personal problems like they never even existed!
Not to mention ‘tis officially the season of cookies and pastries, and our weak hearts can’t ever hold the leash on our ravenous appetites in the chilly wintry weather.
However, you may want to watch that extra slice of cake you just picked up because according to a published study in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, young adults aged between 18 and 29 who consumed fast food three times a week experienced higher levels of “mental distress,” such as anxiety or depression than those who didn’t.
A report published by The Guardian stated that since fast food is usually high in the saturated, trans- and omega-6 fatty acids, it can cause a low-grade inflammatory response in the body, which is linked to anxiety and depression in both animal and human research.
“We were surprised by this,” says Line Begdache, Assistant Professor of Health and Wellness studies at Binghamton, New York. But mood and meat are linked at a cellular level; tryptophan in meat is a precursor of serotonin, the brain’s “feel good” chemical. Those in her study who ate meat thrice a week or less than that also had more mental health problems.
The study found that for adults over 30 years old, eating more fruit and fewer carbohydrates reduced anxiety and depression since fruits are high in antioxidants that protect the brain. But the low carbohydrate effect is quite the mystery because carbohydrates promote serotonin production. “But much of it is hypothetical,” says Begdache. “We can really only say they are linked.”
For a lot of people (including yours truly) who believe in the healing power of food, and the copious amount of love that goes into the making of a Christmas plum cake, a study such as this is going to have to try really hard to convince them. Because as long as one stays on the path of exercise and overall well-being, with only sporadic moments of unhealthy junk cravings, I think we should all be okay! The festive season is bound to bring with it the joy of food and loved ones, how could you possibly take that away from us foodies?
Maybe make up a resolution to limit your junk food to once a week, but never stop going all out when the holidays kick in! What’s Christmas without pudding, and New Years without your favourite meals? Let’s take good care of our mental health, and tend to our physical health..but never stop coddling our emotional health with our favourite food!
Pick up that slice of cake, and put it back on your plate. Because you deserve a very merry Christmas and an amazing and happy new year!