cross different fields, researchers continue to explore the relationship between nutrition and mental health. Significant findings have been reported by those studying nutritional psychiatry, a new approach focused on using food and nutrients to treat mental health conditions. For example, several recent studies have discovered a link between a high-refined-sugar diet and reduced brain function, as well as the aggravation of symptoms of mood disorders like depression (Selhub, 2020).
These findings have prompted mental health professionals to think about the impact of nutrition on mental health. Although there is still more research to be done, experts are already advising individuals to keep the following points in mind:
- Food can affect the way we feel. Sugar and processed meals can cause inflammation in the body and brain, which can lead to mental health issues including anxiety and depression (Sutter Health, n.d.). Oftentimes, when we are stressed or sad, we turn to fast and processed foods for a pick-me-up. The quality of the meals we eat, on the other hand, is critical since it has a substantial impact on how we feel. If you want to boost your mental health, doctors and nutritionists recommend eating fruits and vegetables along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines.
- Hydration is also part of nutrition! Our brain is 75% water, so it is no surprise that our memory, energy, and concentration are affected when we are dehydrated. Neuroscientists have discovered that our brain cells need water to operate efficiently (Vitality, n.d.). Dehydration can lower your energy levels and alter the way your body absorbs meals, both of which can make you feel tired and sluggish. In addition, studies have shown that drinking enough water can reduce the risk of depression and anxiety (Haghighatdoost, 2018). Make sure you have enough water to help your brain function properly and to feel better!
- It is important to identify our eating patterns. Nutritionists recommend maintaining a food journal because usually, we do not pay attention to our eating habits (Dicken, 2019). Keeping track of what you eat and how you feel can help you discover unhealthy patterns. For example, many people overeat when stressed or anxious. If you want to make sure you are eating well-balanced meals, try journaling your meals, a method for mindful eating. Tracking your meals can help you assess if you consume both a proper quantity and quality of meals. Remember that your health may be jeopardized if you have trouble controlling your eating habits. If you are struggling, consider seeking professional help. In situations too challenging to handle alone, asking for aid is never a sign of weakness or failure.
Dicken, C. (2019). The benefits of food journaling. American Society for Nutrition: Excellence in nutrition research and practice. https://nutrition.org/the-benefits-of-food-journaling/.
Haghighatdoost, F., Feizi, A., Esmaillzadeh, A., Rashidi-Pourfard, N., Keshteli, A. H., Roohafza, H., & Adibi, P. (2018). Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study. World Journal of Psychiatry, 8(3), 88–96. https://doi.org/10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.88.
Selhub, E. (2020). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
Sutter Health. (n.d.). Eating well for mental health. Sutter Health. https://www.sutterhealth.org/health/nutrition/eating-well-for-mental-health
Vitality. (n.d.). Hydrate for your mental health. Vitality. https://magazine.vitality.co.uk/hydrate-for-your-mental-health/