Many believe to know how food impacts mood. Coffee and sugar makes people upbeat and happy, turkey’s tryptophan can lead to naps, and vegetables make some feel virtuous, right? However, these “facts” aren’t necessarily true. What’s more, researchers at the University of Binghamton have found that how certain foods influence the brain depends on how old you are.
For the study, published in the latest issue of Nutritional Neuroscience, scientists sent out anonymous surveys all over the world via various social media platforms to professional and social networks. They asked participants questions about what they typically eat each week, how often they exercise, and whether they take vitamin supplements. They also asked questions to assess their level of mental distress, namely depression and anxiety. Then they made a lot of very sophisticated calculations about the results they received from the nearly 600 respondents and came up with two rather significant conclusions.
Among young adults, ages 18-29, those who reported eating meat less than three times a week and exercising less than three times a week were much more likely to report mental distress. Among mature adults, ages 30 and older, those who ate fruit more frequently had less mental distress, and those who consumed more coffee and high-glycemic index foods had more mental distress.
Just to clarify, meat didn’t affect the olds, while fruit and coffee didn’t have an impact on the young folks. The reason might lie in the prefrontal cortex.
“Since birth the brain undergoes many changes and the last part to mature is the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that’s going to help with making smart decisions, planning for the future, and also control emotion,” lead author Lina Begdache, an assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There’s evidence now saying that the end of that continuum would be the late 20s.”