Long Story Short
Research suggests that mood depends on the food one eats. People in different age groups need different food to enhance their mental health.
As people age, the effect of various food items starts impacting them differently. The dietary habits influence the human brain differently across different age groups. According to a study conducted by the Binghamton University, State University of New York, dietary practices the mind of young adults and adults differently. Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University and other researchers an anonymous food-mood questionnaire (FMQ). It included questions on food groups associated with neurochemistry and neurobiology. The participants were divided into two groups- young adults (18-29 years) and mature adults (30 years and above).
On analyzing the data, the team of researchers found that the mood in young adults (18-29 years) seems to depend on food that enhances the availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentration in the brain. The mature adults (30 years and above) are positively influenced by foods that increase the availability of antioxidants and lack of food that negatively influences the sympathetic nervous system. Another important finding of the study was that the young adult is more sensitive to the build-up of brain chemicals. Consumption of meat leads to building up of two brain chemicals-serotonin and dopamine. Both these chemicals lead to promoting a good mood. Regular exercise and physical workout also lead to build up of these two chemicals and other neurotransmitters also. Young adults who ate meat (either red or white) thrice a week and exercised less than thrice a week as well, showed lot more mental distress.
In the case of mature adults, it was found that they are more sensitive to food which has oxidants or lack of food which produce the fight-or-flight syndrome and adversely affect the sympathetic nervous system. As a person ages, the free radical formation increases which are basically the oxidants. Hence with aging, the body needs more antioxidants. Free radical formation impacts the brain in a manner that increases the risk of mental stress. The ability of the body to regulate such stress decreases when mature adults consume food that activates the stress response like coffee and high carbohydrate food. With age people start feeling more anxious and nervous upon consumption of these stress response activating food items.
The research provides critical and helpful insights for dieticians, professional athletes and other professionals who have to manage sportsperson from different ages and backgrounds.