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What makes you happy? Perhaps landing a great job or securing a tantalizing purchase are high on your list. Typically, personal and economic influences play a significant role in what we traditionally attribute to happiness. Indeed, everyone has different ideas about what makes us happy. Ultimately, could the answer for everyone be the same?

We know we are supposed to eat the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vegetables and fruits for optimal physical health. Recently, however, researchers have found a positive correlation between what we eat and our levels of emotional happiness. Our digestive system does more than simply digest food. It also absorbs and passes nutrients to our bloodstream with some of those nutrients used by our brain.

The American Journal of Public Health recently published the results of a study measuring the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the comparative relationship to happiness and overall life satisfaction. More than 12,000 participants responded to surveys conducted in 2007 and again in 2009, inquiring about their levels of fruit and vegetable consumption as well as their emotional well-being (Mujcic & Oswald, 2016).

The results may surprise you. Researchers found participants who ate more fruits and vegetables experienced increased happiness and satisfaction with life circumstances. For each serving above the RDA, the happiness phenomenon also increased. This was true even when life situations changed in a negative way, such as loss of income or relationship stress. The two-year study also suggests that positive effects are quickly evident. Researchers concluded that what we eat today may affect how we feel tomorrow.

In other exciting research, studies suggest the simple addition of probiotics may be of benefit to those suffering from anxiety and depression. Researchers believe restoring the microbial balance in our tummy through the use of probiotics may help treat and prevent anxiety and depression (Clapp et al., 2017).

While we all struggle to make the right choices when we are considering our future health, happiness can be our reward tomorrow. What we put in our bodies today really does matter. Why not add an extra serving of happiness to your plate today?

What are some little things we can do to up our intake? Add the juice of a lemon or slices of fruit to water. Snack on crunchy cucumbers or apple slices instead of chips or crackers. Do you like avocado? Try adding it to breakfast alongside eggs and toast or in a smoothie. Be creative and try new recipes. You will be happy you did.

The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements.
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Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics & Practice, 7(4), 131–136. https://doi-org.

Mujcic, R., & J Oswald, A. (2016). Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American Journal of Public Health, 106(8), 1504–1510.

Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American Journal Of Public Health, 106(8), 1504–1510. https://doi-org.db21.linccweb. org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303260.

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