Posted on Nov 15, 2021, 5 a.m.
Researchers and scientists have been on a relentless search to understand the impact nutrition has on mental health through several studies. Several of these studies have shown that individuals who eat the typical Western diet, consisting mainly of highly processed foods and sugar, are at a higher risk of experiencing issues such as depression and anxiety.
Even though the better part of these investigations was concentrated on the positive effects of the Mediterranean diet, certain other dietary preferences could prove helpful for your mental health.
This post explores the different nutrition patterns, foods, and evidence that demonstrates that sticking with a healthy eating habit is one of the best bets for improving mental health and treating, if not preventing, some conditions.
So, if you're interested in learning how food impacts your mood, continue reading.
Could Food Really Improve Mental Health?
First, let's resolve the elephant in the room. Is it possible that the food you eat regularly is responsible for how you feel mentally? It may seem difficult for many to believe this, but the answer is YES. The only saying that "You're what you eat" is more accurate than you know, and sure, supplements like Delta 10 edibles can help with mood. However, there is an entire branch of science dedicated to studying this topic called nutrition psychiatry, also known as psychonutrition.
Although this aspect of science is relatively new, studies conducted so far support this fact. An article published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society analyzed the currently available research on nutrition, mental health, and diet.
Interestingly enough, the findings of this scientific review indicate that the level to which you maintain a Western diet that contains lots of processed food is directly proportional to your risk of suffering anxiety and depression. But as earlier stated, those who rely on a Mediterranean diet stand a lower chance of developing mental health conditions.
Also, scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry at the King's College of London studied precisely how diet may influence mental health. In their investigations, the researchers focused on the effects of nutrition on the hippocampus - The section of the brain dedicated to neurogenesis (production of new neurons).
Their observations indicate that the following factors slow down neurogenesis which in turn affects cognitive function and mood:
- High-fat diets
- Oxidative stress
- High sugar diets
Thus, it boils down to how the food you eat affects the hippocampus and, subsequently, the production of new neurons in your brain. Luckily, you can consume certain foods that help boost neurogenesis. Let's dive into them.
Helpful Foods for Mental Health
Per the previously mentioned research, some of the foods and activities you should focus on are as follows:
- Nutrition that is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols, and curcumin,
- Physical exercise
- A diet that provides sufficient calories without the risk of undereating or overfeeding.
Check the following section to learn some excellent examples of food items to begin eating to improve your mental health.
Best Diets For Mental Health
At this point, it's impossible to single out one specific diet that does the best for mental health. However, certain eating behaviors are more favorable for your mind than others.
The symptoms of depression seem to respond positively following short-term calorie restriction. Per expert definition, calorie restriction is the deliberate reduction in energy consumption. Recent research suggests that a 30 to 40% reduction in calorie consumption could prove most effective while individuals take in the right amount of water, vitamin, protein, and minerals.
Given the various diet plats, the Mediterranean diet makes the most compelling case for decreasing the symptoms of depression. It's also often recommended for general well-being and health. Some components of this diet that account for these benefits include:
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Examples of foods in this diet are:
- Lots of veggies and fruits
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
Other research has found a connection between polyphenols and improved depressive symptoms. Common examples of the polyphenols involved in this study originated from the following food sources:
Some evidence confirms that intermittent fasting can also enhance mental well-being and mood. Clinicians have reported that fasting may improve mood and heighten the individual's sense of well-being, tranquility, and alertness. However, it's necessary to approach this option and calorie restriction with caution since they might prove detrimental to some people, especially if you have a history of hypoglycemia or other eating disorders.
Scientific research can be a slow process, and it may take several years to understand a particular topic fully. That's the case with dietary habits on mental health because despite the continuous efforts of medicine, researchers, and scientists, the picture of how food impacts mood is still not a complete one. But from what is currently known, a Mediterranean diet is a beneficial option for your weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other aspects of your health. Apart from this, you can also use fasting and calorie restrictions to influence your mind. Be that as it may, you shouldn't hesitate to seek professional help in the event of any mental health challenges.
This article was written by Jennifer D, blogger and health advocate.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
Content may be edited for style and length.
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