The role of nutrition in our wider health is constantly under research and review; this week’s Nutrition news covers recently published studies and articles that highlight some of the intricate relationships between what we eat and how that affects our wider health, including how the simple kiwi fruit could support our mood and mental health.

Kiwi fruit for mental health

Mental health is frequently spoken about in the news and media so it stands to reason that research into this area of health and cognitive support is also on the increase. One recent study, reported in the article “Eating more kiwi fruit could boost your mental health in just a few days” explored the impact of kiwi and vitamin C on mood, shedding light on their potential benefits.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand, observed adults aged 18 to 35 with low plasma levels of vitamin C. The researchers divided the participants into groups receiving daily vitamin C supplements, two kiwifruits, or a placebo, during an 8-week trial.

Results unveiled that those consuming kiwifruit experienced mood and vitality improvements as early as four days into the intervention, peaking at around two weeks. Dr. Tamlin Conner, a lead researcher, emphasised the significance of real-time mood monitoring, revealing the surprising rapidity of improvements with whole-food vitamin C from kiwifruit.

Kiwifruit, beyond its popular taste, brings an array of health benefits, including aiding digestive health, improving blood sugar and lipid levels, and providing essential nutrients such as fibre, potassium, and vitamin E. The study highlights the potential mental health benefits of incorporating vitamin C into the diet.

While the study's promising findings advocate for kiwifruit consumption, some limitations exist, including its observational nature, reliance on participant self-reporting, and the relatively small sample size. Despite these constraints, the study underscores the noteworthy benefits of kiwi and vitamin C for mental health.

Dr. Alex Dimitriu, a double board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist, commends the study for highlighting the impressive benefits of maintaining normal vitamin C levels through a diet rich in citrus fruits. As research continues, questions about the specific demographics benefiting most from vitamin C and other potential factors will be explored, further unravelling the intricate relationship between nutrition and mental health.

Sources of vitamin B12

There are a number of nutrients that are essential in order for our bodies to function normally but vitamin B12 is often overlooked. Vitamin B12, a water-soluble nutrient, plays a pivotal role in promoting various aspects of health. With the human body unable to synthesise B12 independently, it is important to ensure you are consuming enough through diet or supplementation.

This recently published video from Healthline titled “Crucial Vitamin B12 Foods” covers the foods you should be incorporating into your diet to ensure that your B12 levels remain normal and your body is well supported.

  1. Animal Liver and Kidneys

Lambs liver boasts an extraordinary 3,571% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin B12 in a modest 3.5-ounce serving.

Beef or veal liver, while marginally less potent, remains a formidable contender, yielding approximately 3,000% DV for the same serving size.

  1. Clams

Clams, characterised by their strong texture, are another strong contender for B12 consumption, presenting over 7,000% DV for vitamin B12 in a mere 190g serving (20 small clams).

  1. Sardines

A 1-cup serving of drained sardines not only delivers 554% DV of vitamin B12 but also offers a substantial amount of omega-3 fatty acids, heralding multifaceted health benefits.

  1. Beef

Grilled flat iron steak is a savoury option for increasing your B12 intake, contributing 467% DV per 190-gram portion.

  1. Fortified Cereal

For those following a vegetarian lifestyle, fortified cereals are a great option for ensuring adequate intakes, rendering up to 62% DV for vitamin B12 in a 1-cup serving depending on which cereal you choose.

  1. Tuna

Cooked tuna is another great source, delivering a substantial 453% DV of vitamin B12 per 3.5-ounce serving.

  1. Fortified Nutritional Yeast

Two tablespoons of fortified nutritional yeast stand as a noteworthy source, boasting an impressive 733% DV of vitamin B12—a worthy addition for vegan dietary considerations.

  1. Trout

A 3.5-ounce serving of trout provides not only 312% DV of vitamin B12 but also a sizeable portion of omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Salmon

Much like the other fish items in this list, salmon delivers in terms of both B12 and fatty acid content with half a fillet of cooked salmon presenting 208% DV of vitamin B12 alongside its renowned omega-3 fatty acid content.

  1. Fortified Non-dairy Milk

Soy milk, fortified with vitamin B12, stands as a commendable plant-derived alternative, offering 86% DV per 1 cup—this could be a useful source of the vital vitamin for those adhering to vegan dietary preferences.

  1. Milk and Dairy Products

Whole milk contributes 46% DV of vitamin B12 per 1 cup, while a slice of Swiss cheese offers 28% DV as just a couple of dairy examples.

  1. Eggs

Eggs are a nutrient-dense food source with, two large eggs delivering 46% DV of vitamin B12 alongside a commendable dose of vitamin D, supporting bone health.

This essential vitamin is integral to the formation of red blood cells, aiding in the prevention of anaemia and contributing to overall cardiovascular wellbeing. Additionally, B12 supports the maintenance of a healthy nervous system by assisting in the production of myelin, the protective coating around nerve fibres. Cognitive function benefits from B12 as it participates in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are also crucial for DNA synthesis and cell division, contributing to optimal growth and development. Furthermore, B12 aids in maintaining energy levels by facilitating the conversion of food into usable energy. Its diverse health benefits underscore the importance of ensuring sufficient intake through dietary sources or supplements, particularly for individuals at risk of deficiency.

Study explores the dangers of “yo-yo dieting”

A recent qualitative study, reported in the article “Study urges people to think twice before going on a diet” sheds light on the detrimental interpersonal and psychological repercussions of the pervasive phenomenon known as "yo-yo dieting" or weight cycling.

The research, conducted through in-depth interviews with 36 adults who experienced weight cycling, revealed that societal pressures, rather than health considerations, were the primary motivators for embarking on weight-loss journeys.

Participants engaged in various weight-loss strategies initially, but the eventual regaining of lost weight intensified feelings of shame and internalised stigma. This negative cycle often led individuals to adopt increasingly extreme behaviours, such as disordered eating and overexercising, in a desperate attempt to shed pounds quickly. Many participants described the experience as an addiction or a vicious cycle, with weight loss dominating their lives and hindering social interactions.

While some successfully challenged the cycle by embracing healthy eating behaviours for more sustainable weight management overall, the majority found it challenging to break free from ingrained thought patterns, societal expectations, and pervasive weight stigma. The study emphasises the harmful consequences of weight cycling, cautioning against dieting unless medically necessary and instead focusing on healthy eating patterns and regular moderate exercise. The findings underscore the long-lasting impact of societal beauty ideals, diet culture, and weight-related stigma on individuals' wellbeing, urging a reconsideration of societal standards that inadvertently contribute to a cycle of shame, body dissatisfaction, and lifelong struggles with weight.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.