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Nutrition and Mental Health: Is There a Link?

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By Josh Piers - - 5 Mins Read
Diet has an impact on a variety of health factors, including weight, athletic performance, and the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It may also have an impact on mental health, according to some research. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses in the world. Depression might be one of the world's top health concerns by 2030, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source. As a result, rather than depending on current therapies and pharmaceuticals, researchers continue to look for novel approaches to decrease the burden of mental health disorders. Nutritional psychiatry is a new field of study that focuses on the role of diet in the development and treatment of mental illnesses. "Does diet help prevent mental health conditions?" and "Does diet help prevent mental health conditions?" are the two primary topics that researchers are pondering in connection to the role of nutrition in mental health.

Keeping mental illnesses at bay

[caption id="attachment_10165" align="alignnone" width="695"] There is a correlation between what we eat and how we feel, according to a study.[/caption] A relationship between overall food quality and the risk of depression has been discovered in several observational studies. For example, a healthy dietary pattern characterized by high intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, low-fat dairy, and antioxidants, as well as low intakes of animal foods, was linked to a lower risk of depression, according to a reviewTrusted Source of 21 studies from 10 countries. A Western-style diet, on the other hand, was connected to a significantly higher risk of depression, with a high intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes, as well as a low intake of fruit and vegetables. A previous study by Trusted Source revealed similar results, with high adherence to a Mediterranean diet linked to a 32% lower incidence of depression. More recently, a study of persons over 50 years old discovered a relationship between high levels of anxiety and diets heavy in saturated fat and added sweets. Researchers have discovered comparable effects in children and teenagers. For example, a review of 56 research published in 2019 identified a link between a high intake of healthy foods including olive oil, fish, nuts, legumes, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables and a lower risk of depression in adolescence. It's crucial to remember, though, that while observational studies can reveal a link, they can't prove cause and effect. Furthermore, even with randomized controlled trials, nutrition research studies have significant drawbacks, including challenges in reliably assessing food intake. Participants are frequently asked to recollect what they ate in the previous days, weeks, or months, but no one's memory is perfect.

What is the relationship between diet and mental health?

Our diet and mental health have a complicated relationship. However, there is a correlation between what we eat and how we feel, according to a study. Eating well can improve your mood. You don't have to make drastic dietary changes, but try some of these suggestions:
  • Regularly consume food. This can prevent your blood sugar from decreasing, making you weary and irritable.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Even slight dehydration can have an impact on your mood, energy level, and concentration.
  • Consume a healthy fat balance. Healthy fats are required for your brain to function properly. Olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds, seeds, oily fish, avocados, milk, and eggs all contain them. Trans fats, which are commonly found in processed or packaged meals, are detrimental for your mood and heart health.
  • Increase your intake of whole grains, fruits, and veggies. They provide the vitamins and minerals that your brain and body require to remain healthy.
  • Every meal should include some protein. It contains an amino acid that helps your brain manage your mood.
  • Take care of your gut health. When you're stressed, your gut can speed up or slow down to match how you're feeling. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, and probiotics are all good stomach foods.
  • Be conscious of the effects of coffee on your mood. It can disrupt sleep, especially if consumed close to bedtime, and some people report that it makes them angry and nervous. Coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate all contain caffeine.

What should I eat?

The NHS website's Eatwell guide provides thorough information on how to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Mind has more tips on eating well. It also has advice on managing your mood with food, including foods to avoid if you’re taking certain medications.

Sharing meals with other people

Eating meals with others has numerous psychological, social, and biological advantages. They provide us with a feeling of rhythm and regularity in our lives, as well as an opportunity to reflect on the day and connect with others. Eating on upright seats aids our digestion biologically. Talking and listening also slow us down, allowing us to eat more slowly. Set aside at least one day a week to eat with family and friends to make the most of mealtimes. Choose an easy-to-prepare meal to avoid making it a chore. Share responsibilities so that everyone has a separate duty to complete, such as shopping, preparing the table, cooking, or cleaning up. Turn off the TV so you can all chat and share.

Eating difficulties

You may have an eating problem if you use food as a negative coping method to deal with emotional discomfort or as a way to feel in control. To learn more about maintaining a healthy diet, visit these articles and we have great suggestions for you!