Walnuts the New Brain Food for Stress

Date:

Overview: Walnut consumption was associated with increased improvements in self-reported mental health and stress. It was also linked to improved sleep quality and metabolic biomarkers. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, melatonin and other vitamins and nutrients related to mental and gut health.

Source: University of South Australia

Stressed-out college students may want to add walnuts to their daily diet in the weeks leading up to their next exam.

A new clinical trial of undergraduate students during their university studies has shown positive effects of walnut consumption on self-reported measures of mental health and biomarkers of general health.

The study from the University of South Australia, published in the journal Nutrientsalso suggests that walnuts may counteract the effects of academic stress on the gut microbiota during periods of stress, especially in women.

Principal Investigators, Ph.D. student Mauritz Herselman and associate professor Larisa Bobrovskaya, say the results add to the growing body of evidence linking walnuts to improved brain and gut health.

“Students experience academic stress during their studies, which has a negative effect on their mental health, and they are particularly vulnerable during exam periods,” says Herselman.

Eighty undergraduate students, divided into treatment and control groups, were clinically assessed at three intervals, at the beginning of a 13-week university semester, during the exam period, and two weeks after the exam period. Those in the treatment group were given walnuts to consume daily during these three intervals for 16 weeks.

“We found that those who consumed about half a cup of walnuts each day showed improvements in self-reported indicators of mental health. Walnut consumers also showed improved metabolic biomarkers and overall sleep quality over the longer term.”

Students in the control group reported increased stress and depression levels leading up to exams, but those in the treatment group did not. The walnut consumers also reported a significant decrease in feelings associated with depression between the first and last visit, compared to controls.

Previous research has shown that walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, as well as melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone), polyphenols, folate and vitamin E, all of which promote a healthy brain and gut.

Principal Investigators, Ph.D. student Mauritz Herselman and associate professor Larisa Bobrovskaya, say the results add to the growing body of evidence linking walnuts to improved brain and gut health. The image is in the public domain

“The World Health Organization recently stated that at least 75 percent of mental disorders affect people under the age of 24, making undergraduate students particularly vulnerable to mental health problems,” says Herselman.

Assoc Prof Larisa Bobrovskaya says mental disorders are common among university students and can negatively impact students’ academic performance and long-term physical health.

“We have shown that consuming walnuts during stressful periods can improve the mental health and general well-being of university students, and that it is a healthy and delicious snack and a versatile ingredient in many recipes, to combat some of the negative effects of academic stress ,” Assoc Prof says Bobrovskaya.

“Because there are fewer men in the study, more research is needed to determine the gender-dependent effects of walnuts and academic stress in college students. It is also possible that a placebo effect may have come into play, as this was not a blind study.”

About this nutrition and stress research news

Author: Press Office
Source: University of South Australia
Contact: Press Service – University of South Australia
Image: The image is in the public domain

Also see

It shows the hands of an elderly lady

Original research: Open access.
“The effects of walnuts and academic stress on mental health, general well-being and the gut microbiota in a sample of university students: a randomized clinical trial” by Mauritz F. Herselman et al. Nutrients


Abstract

The effects of walnuts and academic stress on mental health, general well-being and the gut microbiota in a sample of university students: a randomized clinical trial

Poorer mental health is common among undergraduate students due to academic stress. There is an interaction between stress and nutrition, with stress influencing food choice. Nutritional interventions can be effective in preventing mental health decline due to complex bidirectional interactions between the brain, gut and gut microbiota.

Previous studies have shown that the consumption of walnuts has a positive effect on mental health. Here, using a randomized clinical trial (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, #ACTRN12619000972123), we set out to investigate the effects of academic stress and daily walnut consumption in university students on mental health, biochemical markers of general health, and the gut microbiota.

We found that academic stress negatively impacted self-reported mood and mental health status, while daily consumption of walnuts improved mental health indicators and protected against some of the negative effects of academic stress on metabolic and stress biomarkers.

Academic stress was associated with lower gut microbial diversity in women, which was improved by walnut consumption. The effects of study stress or walnut consumption in male participants could not be determined due to the small number of participants.

Thus, walnut consumption may have a protective effect against some of the negative effects of academic stress, but sex-dependent mechanisms require further investigation.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Popular

More like this
Related