Scientific Studies Show How Nutrition Influences Mental Health

We are what we eat, and this is demonstrated by researches and studies that show a link between nutrition and mental health. The role of nutrition for our mental health is far greater than we can imagine. Read on to know what diet foods are best for mental health and deal with depression.

There is no doubt that our diet partly influences our mood swings, our moments of unexplained sadness, low energy, and zest for life.

This tells us that the role of nutrition in mental health is significant. Hence, you must consider consuming foods that benefit your wellbeing. Moreover, there are several foods for depression and mental health wellness that you must include in your diet regularly. Read on!

As medicine advances in various fields, doctors share their findings. In doing so, they discover unexpected connections between different areas of specialization.

For example, neurologists, psychiatrists, and nutritionists have found common grounds of research in food for depression.

Some of their findings on foods for depression are significant:

The Modern Diet: Fast, Low in Nutrients and Linked to Mental Health Issues

The link between nutrition and mental health becomes stronger when doctors start looking into people’s diets. The wellness impacts of the modern digital world we live in are humungous. And it requires us to be always on the go.

We are chronically late for almost everything due to heavy traffic and increasing distances between business hubs and residential areas.

As a result, most people also eat on the go: a donut, a hamburger, or a sandwich. Besides, you would think that a homemade sandwich is healthier.

The answer is: not really. You generally use lots of processed food in making it, such as cold cuts, margarine, and various store-bought dressings.

Avoid Processed Foods for Mental Wellness

foods to avoid for depression

Moreover, processed food is the enemy of good mental health. Speaking of foods for depression, the first thing you should cut from your diet is processed food.

According to two independent studies, one published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the other in Psychiatry Research, there is a direct link between nutrition and mental health.

Thus, people with a regular diet of processed food have a 60% higher risk of developing depression compared with people who opt for natural, lesser processed food.

Also, the age when people start eating unhealthy foods has an impact on their risk for developing mental health issues in the future. For adolescents and young adults, the risk jumps to 80% compared to the results of the studies quoted above.

Food for Depression: Fighting against the Plague of the 21st Century

As you noted, most of the statistics I presented above refer to depression. There is a perfect reason for that.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the number one cause for disability among US citizens in the age group 15-44. And one of the triggers of this devastating condition is poor diet.

The fact is that, while we reached the highest level in history in scientific and technological development, we have hit the lowest point in taking care of ourselves. Sadly, stress, chronic fatigue, and poor diet are rampant at all levels in society.

Only two years ago, the Center for Disease Control published an alarming survey. It showed that only 1 in 10 adult Americans eat the minimum daily quantity of fruit and vegetables.

diet in europe for mental wellness
PC – ec.europa.eu

By contrast, in Europe:

  • 51.4% of people have at least one portion of fruit and vegetables every day;
  • 14.1% of people have five portions or more of fruit and vegetables every day.

This result is explained by the Mediterranean diet – one of the best diets for people who are looking for food for depression.

Nutrition and Mental Health: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

After so much bad news, here are some positive details about how food can help you reduce the odds of developing mental health issues. Hence, understanding the role of nutrition in mental health is the key to a healthy mind and a healthy body.

Researchers have long noted that people in the Mediterranean area (France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal) have a lower rate of depression and other mental health issues.

The same is true for many Asian nations, especially Japan. Researchers quickly discovered the links: foods for depression and mental health, which are present in a high percentage in these people’s diets.

They established that the Mediterranean and Japanese people have a lower risk of depression between 25% and 35%.

The common element for both the Mediterranean and the traditional Japanese diet is fish.

Fish, especially wild ocean fish, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

The species which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids are:

  1. salmon,
  2. mackerel,
  3. trout and,
  4. sardines.

Moreover, the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids go beyond fighting against depression. The American Heart Association recommends eating these types of fish at least twice per week to lower the risk of heart disease due to bad cholesterol.

Similarly, Salmon is also rich in vitamin D. This is one of the critical vitamins that help your brain stay healthy and is a natural booster for mood.

Apart from food, your body can produce vitamin D while you are outside, walking in the sun. Just half an hour under the sun twice a week is enough to provide sufficient vitamin D.

List of Foods For Depression

Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help your brain to fight depression and induce happy hormones in your body. Here is the best nutrition option for good mental health.

Foods rich in Vitamin C below are among the best foods for depression:

  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi
  • Grapefruit
  • Peppers
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Tomato
  • Strawberries

Foods rich in Vitamin E below are among the best foods for good mental health:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Margarine
  • Wheat germ
  • Vegetable oils

Foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids are among the best foods for anxiety and depression:

  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Soybean oil
  • Kidney beans
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Salmon

List of Foods To Avoid For Depression

1. Sugar

Going sugar-free can also help fight depression to a great extent. Here are some of the common foods to avoid for your mental health wellness because of poor nutrition value.

Additionally, avoid daily use of sugary products like:

  • Ketchup
  • Soda (Regular as well as Diet)
  • Energy Drinks
  • Fruit Juices
  • Doughnuts

2. Processed Food

As mentioned above, staying away from processed food is the first thing you have to do if you’re fighting mental disorders like anxiety, depression, etc.

Similarly, avoid daily use of processed food like:

  • Burgers
  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Dressings
  • Sauces
  • Pizza
  • Noodles
  • Bacon
  • Coffee

3. Trans Fats

Trans fats are responsible to increase the risks of depression and also negatively impact your heart health. So stay away from it.

  • Fried chicken
  • Sweets
  • Fried French Fries

See the Link between Foods for Depression and a Healthy Brain

To sum up, the role of nutrition in mental health is evident. Therefore, take your diet seriously. Statistical numbers are useful to show the connection between nutrition and mental health. However, these are abstract details, and many people cannot picture connections and benefits.

This is why Dr. Lisa Mosconi, the director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, decided on a practical approach. She used CT scans to study the physical details of the brain of people with a healthy diet.

In her own words: – “Our imaging studies show that the brains of people who follow a Mediterranean-style diet typically look younger. Moreover, they also have larger volumes and are more metabolically active than people who eat a more typical Western diet.”

Dr. Mosconi also encourages people to adopt the “rainbow diet” of foods for depression. This means eating fruit and vegetables that cover the entire color palette: yellow, orange, red, green, and purple.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is an undeniable link between nutrition and mental health. And it is in our power to prevent the onset of depression and other mental health issues by choosing to eat natural, unprocessed food.

Besides being healthy, this food is also incredibly delicious. People who stay on a Mediterranean diet; all their lives do not do it just because it is healthy. Moreover, they love the taste of fish, fresh salads and of the many fruits they eat for dessert.

To conclude, eat healthy, stay healthy.

Key Takeaways On How Nutrition Influences Mental Health

  • Our diet partly influences our mood swings, our moments of unexplained sadness, low energy, and zest for life.
  • There are several foods for depression and mental health wellness that you must include in your diet regularly.
  • Unfortunately, our modern diet has low nutritional value.
  • Furthermore, stress, chronic fatigue, and poor diet are rampant at all levels in society.
  • Therefore, understanding the role of nutrition in mental health is the key to a healthy mind and a healthy body.
  • A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids reduces the risk of depression.
  • Moreover, processed food is the enemy of good mental health.
  • Similarly, the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids go beyond fighting against depression.
  • Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help your brain to fight depression.
  • Importantly, avoid daily use of sugary products.
  • Also, make sure you take your diet seriously.
  • Lastly, it is in our power to prevent the onset of depression and other mental health issues through proper diet.

How will you change your diet to incorporate more foods for depression? What are your thoughts on the role of nutrition in mental health? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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