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Fruit and VegAccording to nutritional wisdom, an apple a day can help keep your body healthy. Now researchers say it can also improve your state of mind.

A team from the psychology department at the University of Otago in New Zealand asked 281 young people to complete a 21-day online food diary.

At the end of the trial period, those who ate plenty of fruit and vegetables reported feeling calmer, happier and more energised. Those who ate junk food reported no difference in mood.

Head researcher Dr Tamlin Conner said: ‘On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did.’

‘After further analysis we demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change.

One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup.

To understand which comes first – feeling positive or eating healthier foods – Dr Conner and her team ran additional analyses and found that eating fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive mood the next day, suggesting that healthy foods may improve mood.

Dr Conner added: ‘While this research shows a promising connection between healthy foods and healthy moods, further research is necessary such as the development of randomised control trials evaluating the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake on mood and well-being.’

2013 miles in 2013

Having completed a year without all alcohol in 2012, my self imposed challenge this year is to complete 2013 self powered miles by the end of 2013. My rules are quite simple:

  1. All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
  2. I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment

To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.

I need to average just over 5.5 miles (9 km) per day to hit my target. I ran just over 670 miles in 6 and a half months in 2012, so this is a big step up. It is not going to be easy, but hey, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was!

As part of this challenge I am planning a few races and have already signed up for 2 half marathons in March, a full 26.2 miles marathon in May and a return trip to the Great South Run.

I will be doing this challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and so will keep my existing Just Giving page going for another year. I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.

To donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB55 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB55 £5″ will donate £5.