The Connection Between Diet and Mental Health
June 21st, 2016
We know what you eat can affect your waistline, but not many people realize that what you eat (and don’t eat) can also affect your mental health. Eating in a healthy way can help prevent and manage a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to learn what to eat and how a healthy diet can help.
Feed Your Brain
What you eat can have a significant impact on brain function, which ultimately can affect your mood. For example, both high and low blood sugar can affect your mood by making you irritable. Additionally, when you eat food, you take in different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, which also play a critical role in your mental health. Individuals who lack vitamin D and/or vitamin B may be more likely to suffer from depression, as can individuals who are low in fatty acids and omega-3s. It’s important to ensure that you’re eating a diet rich in these essential nutrients. Research has shown that increasing omega-3s can be therapeutic for those suffering from depression.
What to Eat
So, what exactly are you supposed to eat to make sure you’re getting enough mood-boosting nutrients and vitamins? Some foods that can help keep levels of omega-3s in check include fish such as salmon, tuna and trout. Avocados and walnuts also contain vitamin B, which is healthy for your brain. Turkey and chicken are both excellent sources of protein.
Furthermore, plant-based foods like leafy greens, mushrooms, and vegetables can also help improve your mood because they convert to serotonin — the neurotransmitter largely responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being.
Additionally, make sure you’re drinking enough water. According to one study by the United States Department of Agriculture, dehydration is associated with a negative mood.
What to Avoid
Eating foods that are high in sugar or artificial sweeteners and drinking beverages such as coffee and alcohol can have a negative impact on your brain. Alcohol is a depressant, therefore it is important to closely monitor your intake.
Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Food
No matter what you choose to eat, it’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with food. What we eat and how we think and feel about food is directly connected to our brains, and multiple studies have shown that there is a deep connection between your diet and your mental health. It may help to think about food as simply a source of nutrition instead of something to relieve stress or make you happy.
Maintaining a healthy diet can have a significant impact on the state of your mental health. If you are struggling with depression or any other mental illness, please contact the David Lawrence Center in Naples, Florida to get help from the expert mental health professionals in Southwest Florida.