Posted on Mon, 5 Mar 12
Switching to a vegetarian diet improved mood and reduced stress in a group of meat eaters, most likely because modern meat rich diets are to high in bad fats, linked to bad moods.
A group of researchers had noticed previously that vegetarians seemed to have better moods than meat eaters (1), so in a follow up study they switched a bunch of omnivores to a vegetarian diet to see if their mood changed.
Sure enough, within 2 weeks, the omnivores who switched to a vegetarian diet reported significantly better moods and lower levels of stress related mental symptoms.
The study investigators proposed two ways by which the dietary change may have improved mood.
Firstly, reducing meat means reducing excessive intake of certain fats (omega-6 and arachadonic acid) that are linked to mood changes such as depression. Wild game meats and seafood are very low in these fats while modern grain-fed meats are some 500% higher note the investigators.
Also “vegetarian diets are typically rich in antioxidants, potentially conveying mood protection for the vegetarian group via reduction of oxidative stress” they point out.
So enjoying more vegetarian meals, eating less meat and limiting meats to grass-fed varieties would be a good way to improve your mood with food.
1. Beezhold BL, Johnston CS, Daigle DR: Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults. Nutr J 2010, 9:26.
2. Beezhold BL, Johnston CS. Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 2012 Feb 14;11(1):9. [Epub ahead of print]