Eating and mental  health

How Your Diet Can Impact Your Mental Health

January 5, 2016

Do you ever wonder if what you are eating is impacting your mood? Amazingly, what we put into our bodies can either improve our mental health or cause our moods to plummet. Studies have been done to prove that the quality of the food we eat as well as possible nutrient deficiencies play a profound role in mental health. The University of Melbourne and Deakin University have put this theory to the test. Dr. Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne has stated that there is compelling evidence that proper nutrition is key when it comes to mental disorders and that nutrition is as important for proper mental health as it is for other systems of the body such as endocrinology, gastroenterology, and even cardiology. As proven through many studies, nutrition does play a role in mental health and what we eat can either be extremely beneficial to mental health or detrimental. There are some nutrients that have been shown to be key in supporting mental health. These nutrients include omega-3s, B vitamins with an emphasis on folate and B12, choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, SAMe, Vitamin D, and amino acids. (Sciencedaily.com). When choosing which foods to eat, knowing which foods contain these nutrients can be helpful in making sure you are fueling your brain with the proper nutrients. Foods high in omega-3s include fatty fish such as wild caught salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. To be sure you are getting adequate omega-3s into your diet try to eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week. Foods high in B vitamins especially B12 are going to be animal products. If you do not consume animal products, it is essential to supplement with B12. Other sources of B vitamins are dark leafy greens, fortified cereal, grains, lentils, and nuts. Foods high in choline are things like eggs, soymilk, bananas, and oats. 

Iron rich foods are going to be meats and poultry. Foods high in zinc are oysters, beef, and even pumpkin seeds. Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and avocados will give you a boost of magnesium while fish, mushrooms, beef and natural sunlight will help to increase your vitamin D. Tryptophan is an amino acids and this specific amino acids plays an important role in improving sleep. Things like turkey and other poultry are very high in tryptophan. The secret to nutrition and mental health is to eat a healthy well balance diet full of foods that are going to support your mental health while removing the processed foods that are stripped of all of the nutrients needed to support health. 

While there are many foods and nutrients that can improve mental health, there are also some foods that should be avoided. According to mentalhealth.org, those who report having some level of mental health issues have reported consuming fewer healthier foods than the population that consumes fresh fruits and vegetable daily. They also reported eating foods such as chips, and readymade meals. Foods that are high in refined sugar can cause your blood sugar to become imbalanced and cause you to experience fatigue and an overall lack of energy. Trans fat which are damaged fats should also be avoided. Evidence has shown a correlation between the consumption of trans fats and depression as well as an increased risk of stroke. Trans fats are often found in highly processed foods and even commercial chocolate. Always be sure to check your foods labels for trans fats. Alcohol is also something that should only be used in moderation since it can impact mental health as well. Heavy use of alcohol can impair memory and cause poor psychological function. Recent studies have also shown that a diet high in salt and saturated fats can impair brain health. Food plays an important role when it comes to mental health. What we eat on a daily basis can either feed diseases or can help to prevent mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and even Alzheimer’s disease. Eating healthy should become part of our routine just like getting up to brush our teeth. Maintaining a healthy and well balanced diet high in nutrient rich foods will fuel our body with the things that it needs to function properly, and are brains will thank us for it.