Adults who consume lower amounts of fruits and vegetables have a higher risk of anxiety disorder, according to a new study. Researchers from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging have found that the prevalence of anxiety disorders is linked to the intake of fruits and vegetables.
Lead author of the study Karen Davison spoke about the findings of the study. “For those who consumed less than 3 sources of fruits and vegetables daily, there was at least at 24% higher odds of anxiety disorder diagnosis.”
“This may also partly explain the findings associated with body composition measures. As levels of total body fat increased beyond 36%, the likelihood of anxiety disorder was increased by more than 70%,” states co-author Jose Mora-Almanza.
Davison adds, “Increased body fat may be linked to greater inflammation. Emerging research suggests that some anxiety disorders can be linked to inflammation.”
Women Suffer More Than Men
For the study, Davison and her team analyzed data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, which included 26,991 men and women between the ages of 45 and 85. Researchers found that in addition to diet and body composition measures, anxiety disorders can also differ by gender, marital status, immigrant status, income, and other various health issues. It was also found that women suffered from anxiety disorders more than men. One in nine women had the disorder compared to one in fifteen men.
Also, those who had always been single had a much higher prevalence of anxiety than among those were living with a partner. Patients with household incomes under $20,000 per year had anxiety disorders, more than double of their wealthier peers.
“We were not surprised to find that those in poverty had such a high prevalence of anxiety disorders; struggling to afford basics such as food and housing causes relentless stress and is inherently anxiety-inducing,” says co-author Hongmei Tong, Assistant Professor of Social Work at MacEwan University in Edmonton.
Patients with three or more health conditions had fivefold the prevalence of anxiety disorders in comparison to those with no chronic conditions. Of those with chronic conditions, patients in chronic pain had double the prevalence of anxiety disorders in comparison to those who were free of pain.
“Chronic pain and multiple health conditions make life very unpredictable and can be anxiety producing. One never knows whether health problems will interfere with work or family responsibilities and many activities become more challenging and time consuming,” says co-author Shen (Lamson) Lin, a doctoral student at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW).
Researchers do stress that this study was limited as the assessment of anxiety disorders was based upon self-reporting of a medical diagnosis. Regardless, the conclusion of the study found sufficient evidence to suggest that the consumption of fruits and vegetables along with marital status, income, gender, and other various health issues can contribute to anxiety. It is estimated that 10% of the global population will suffer from anxiety disorders, so research is necessary to help understand treatment and preventative measures.