A study from Australia showed that academic stress may have a negative impact on the mental health status of university students, especially during exam periods, but nut consumption may help thwart such negative effects.
“We found that academic stress in undergraduate college students had a negative impact on overall mental health, exacerbating self-reported stress levels and
depressionleading to significant mood disturbances [during the exam period]the researchers said.
“[Our study also showed that] Daily nut consumption improved indicators of mental health and protected it from some of the negative effects of academic stress on biomarkers of metabolism and stress.”
eighty undergraduate students (Median age 22 years 75 percent female) were randomized to either the treatment or control arm.
People in the treatment arm were asked to eat a portion (56 g) of walnuts daily for 16 weeks, while participants in the control group abstained from eating any nuts or fatty fish during the same period. Participants attended clinical visits at the beginning of the semester (V1), during the testing period (V2), and two weeks after the examinations (V3).
Compared to V1, V2 had an increase in the mean total mood disorder score in POMS* (7.6; p = 0.047 [treatment] and 14.1; r = 0.011 [control]). “[These imply] Overall, the academic stress experienced in V2 had a negative impact on the participants’ moods,” the researchers said.
wNut consumption did not reduce increases in scores for any of the POMS dimensions. IIn the control arm, mean scores for confusion, bewilderment, fatigue, inertia, and tension anxiety increased from V2 to V1 (1.5,
4.2 and 3.4, respectively) but decreased by V3 (–1.9; p = 0.006,
–4.0; p = 0.002, f –4.9; p = 0.002). “[These indicate] They said that these dimensions contributed to the overall mood disturbance observed in V2.
In the control arm, there was a significant decrease in the AQoL-8D** overall mean quality of life score in V2
compared to V.1 (–3.2; p = 0.0297), as well as in confrontation dimensions (–8.0; p = 0.012) and mental health (–7.2; p = 0.011). These suggest that academic stress experienced in V2 increased feelings of sadness and anxiety, and decreased perceptions of problem-solving ability. [among control participants]The researchers note.
These effects were not observed in the treatment arm. They said that a near-significant interaction effect in the mental health dimension among nut consumers indicated that the nut prevented mental health decline during the testing period.
MHC-SF *** Dimension of psychological well-being means a score decrease from V1 to V2 in the control arm
(–3.24; p = 0.002). “[This indicates] that the psychological well-being of control participants was negatively affected by academic stress in V2,” they said. Again, those in the treatment arm did not experience this effect,
Promotes the protective effect of walnuts on mental health.
for DASS21#, the control arm had significant increases in mean depression and stress scores in V2 (4.7; p = 0.0002 and 5.3; p = 0.0003, respectively). These effects were not seen in the treatment arm. These indicate that stress during the tests increased perceived measures of depression and stress, while nut consumption seemed to stabilize these negative emotional states.
In the control arm, total protein levels decreased from V1 to V2 and V3 (from 74.9 to 72.9 and 72.6 g/L). “A poor diet later in the semester, particularly during exam period, may have contributed to these lower levels,” the researchers noted. Corresponding levels were greater in the treatment arm across all time points (77.0, 77.1, and 75.7 g/L, respectively).
The serum albumin levels of the nut consumers were greater than those of the controls, both in V2 (48.9 vs 45.7 g/L) and V3 (48.1 vs 45.3 g/L). “Given that albumin contributes to 60 percent of total protein levels, these findings suggest that incorporating walnuts into the diet may increase albumin levels,” the researchers said. “This may be important because low albumin levels have been independently associated with both malnutrition and inflammation.”