Mental Well-Being And Watermelon

  • Muna HassanBachelor of science in molecular biology and Genetics Üsküdar Üniversitesi
  • Humna Maryam IkramBS, Pharmacology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK

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Research indicates that diet and nutrition have a crucial role not only in physiology and body composition but also in mood and mental health.1

Ensuring proper well-being and preventing dysfunction brought on by internal or external sources depend on healthy nutrition and supplementation. Healthy diets can restore or even improve biological functions, while deficiencies in nutrients frequently lead to impaired system function.2

In the pursuit of mental well-being, the role of nutrition is gaining recognition as a crucial factor in promoting overall well-being.3 One fruit that stands out for its remarkable nutritional benefits, particularly in the realm of mental health, is the juicy and refreshing watermelon. Let's delve into the nutritional wonders that make watermelon a potential ally in the promotion of mental well-being.

Watermelon is a large fruit characterised by its juicy, sweet and refreshing flesh. It has a thick green rind, which may have dark stripes. The flesh is usually red or pink, and has seeds in it. 

Components of watermelon

  • Vitamins A, B1, and B6
  • Watermelon is one of the unique sources of lycopene
  • Watermelon's characteristic aroma is imparted by medium- and short-chain fatty acids, as well as geranial, ß-ionone, and neral4
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Citrulline

Watermelon is a rich source of lycopene, its most accessible form is provided by pasteurised watermelon juice.5

Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, watermelon's unique lycopene and vitamins are responsible for its ability to support cognitive health.

For cognition to occur, high energy generation rates are necessary. However, this process leads to the release of free radicals.1

Other factors that lead to the release of free radicals include:

  • Inflammation
  • Exercise
  • Ischemia/reperfusion injury

Some externally generated sources of free radicals are:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Radiation
  • Certain drugs, pesticides
  • Industrial solvents

Overexposure to free radicals is responsible for several chronic illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, cognitive impairment, and vision loss.1 Lycopene possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been demonstrated to have neuroprotective effects. These antioxidants enhance biological processes by eliminating free radicals from the body. 

Explore the unique relationship between mental health and watermelons, where the brilliant red slices not only tantalise the taste buds but also serve as an avenue to a more nourished and harmonious state of mind.

Watermelon naturally contains the amino acid L-arginine, a precursor to L-tryptophan which, contributes to the production of serotonin in the brain. This suggests that watermelon potentially influences serotonin levels, impacting various mental health issues.

Nutritional venefits of watermelon

Watermelon is known for its high water content which makes it a natural hydrating agent. Dehydration has been linked to cognitive tiredness and mood disturbances, highlighting the necessity of regular hydration for healthy mental performance.4 Including watermelon in one's diet is a pleasant and hydrated method to promote cognitive processes, ensuring that the brain functions properly.

Watermelon is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Apart from its hydrating effects, watermelon is a nutritious powerhouse, containing a variety of critical vitamins and minerals. 

Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant present in abundance in watermelon, plays an important function in protecting the brain from oxidative stress, which has been linked to mental deterioration. 

Watermelon contains vitamins A, B1 and B6, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, and phenolics which contribute to the overall health of the nervous system, potentially improving cognitive function and mental clarity.4

Watermelon's brilliant red colour is not only visually appealing; it also indicates the presence of lycopene, a strong mood-regulating chemical. Lycopene has been associated with a reduced risk of depression symptoms and is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, which may influence mental well-being.

Watermelon's natural sugars provide a quick energy boost, making it a refreshing alternative to processed snacks and sweets, which can lead to mood swings and energy crashes.

FAQs

Can watermelon alone treat mental illness?

No, watermelon only plays a supportive role in the management of mental health and therefore it is advisable to seek professional help.

Can watermelon be taken daily?

Yes, watermelon should be included in daily diet, especially in non-diabetics.

Who should take watermelon with caution?

  • Due to the sugars present in watermelon, diabetics should eat with caution as this may impact their blood glucose levels especially when consumed in large quantities
  • Diabetics should monitor their blood glucose when taking watermelon

Summary

Amino acids and vitamins, such as C and B vitamins, which are vital for producing and controlling neurotransmitters, are abundant in watermelon. These neurotransmitters, which include dopamine and serotonin, are essential for emotional stability and well-being. Increased consumption of watermelon will help maintain a balanced level of these mood regulators, which may help reduce the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and improve mental well-being. 

The high water content of watermelon keeps one hydrated and is important for cognitive function. Since dehydration has been associated with elevated levels of tension and anxiety, watermelon is a great option for promoting good brain function. 

Also, lycopene, which is one of the antioxidants found in watermelon, has been linked to cognitive performance and may aid in protecting the brain from oxidative stress.

References

  1. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Phcog Rev [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2024 May 17];4(8):118. Available from: http://www.phcogrev.com/article/2010/4/8/1041030973-784770902
  2. Muscaritoli M. The impact of nutrients on mental health and well-being: insights from the literature. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2021 Mar 8 [cited 2024 May 17];8:656290. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.656290/full
  3. Adan A. Cognitive performance and dehydration. Journal of the American College of Nutrition [Internet]. 2012 Apr [cited 2024 May 17];31(2):71–8. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2012.10720011
  4. Naz A, Butt MS, Sultan MT, Qayyum MMN, Niaz RS. Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims. EXCLI J [Internet]. 2014 Jun 3 [cited 2024 May 17];13:650–60. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464475/
  5. Crowe-White KM, Nagabooshanam VA, Dudenbostel T, Locher JL, Chavers TP, Ellis AC. 100% watermelon juice as a food-first intervention to improve cognitive function: ancillary findings from a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics [Internet]. 2021 Oct 2 [cited 2024 May 17];40(4):304–12. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21551197.2021.1988028

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Ihuman Patience

B. Pharm. Madonna University

Ihuman is a seasoned pharmacist with years of experience spanning community pharmacy, hospitals, and public health sectors. She is dedicated to improving healthcare outcomes and wellbeing supported by her depth of knowledge in these fields. She specializes in unraveling complex medical concepts and making health information simple, drawing on her strong pharmaceutical background. Her commitment to accessibility and health makes her a reliable resource for readers looking for insightful information on medicine, healthcare, and general wellbeing.

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