Why fruits and veggies make your happier

What do you call a stolen yam? A hot potato. What do you do when a tomato goes on strike? You pick it. How do you make a strawberry shake? Put it in the freezer until it shivers!

See how fruits and vegetables can cheer you up? And instead of talking about them, guess what happens when you eat them?

A study of 13,000 people out of the U.K.'s University of Warwick found that mental health and well-being, characterized by optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships, go way up as you increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you consume! The theory is that vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and other nutrients in produce (or the way your gut bacteria metabolize those nutrients) help your cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems function optimally. That makes your brain and body strong. And folks who eat healthy foods do other things that are good for them, too, such as get regular physical activity and have de-stress routines and loving interactions with others.

So aim for nine servings every day. It's easier than you might imagine. For example: Half a cup of blueberries, 1 cup broccoli, 1 medium baked potato, 1 medium apple, 1 cup quinoa and ½ cup arugula — that's nine.

THE POWER OF 'THANK YOU'

England's first book of etiquette, “The Book of the Civilized Man,” set behavior standards for 14th-century nobles, and many of the guide's admonitions are still accepted as good manners today: “When food is hidden in your mouth, let your tongue not minister to words.” “Sitting at table as guest, you should not put elbows on table.” And, of course, “Say thank you to your host.”

In fact, good manners are so important that 700 years later, folks still explore how they affect your relationships and your individual well-being.

And a Harvard study found that people who were thanked usually looked for new opportunities to be helpful to others, and the good will multiplies. So make expressions of gratitude part of your everyday routine. It's good for your health and self-esteem, and will increase your circle of friends.

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT IS EFFECTIVE WEIGHT-LOSS STRATEGY

The idea that if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem has been around since Biblical times (the phrasing there, “Those who are not for us are against us”) and is echoed in today's climate-change protests. We think the sentiment also applies to how you react to folks around you who are part of the current obesity epidemic.

Research shows that discrimination against overweight and obese people is very common; the bigger a person's waistline, the bigger the prejudice. Bias leads to fewer social and employment opportunities, lower wages and exaggeration of health problems. Some overweight people are reluctant to have medical exams and some health-care professionals are reluctant to address weight issues unless the patient brings them up. Clearly, if you discriminate against someone who is overweight or obese in the workplace, the mall or on the playground, that makes you part of the problem.

To be part of the solution, the most effective approach is to use positive reinforcement — whether you're dealing with family members, friends or colleagues who are overweight. Make an effort to help the person adopt a positive vision of him- or herself, and offer support for efforts to improve health.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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