Nutrition plays an important role in mental health. Eating a balanced diet can help maintain a healthy emotional state. A major factor behind this connection is how food affects the brain, such as providing the energy needed to cope with stress and fostering the production of certain hormones.
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that people with a diet high in processed and refined food and low in fresh and unprocessed food had lower self-esteem, fewer positive states, and more depression. They concluded that a diet with fewer processed foods and greater variety of fresh foods could help reduce symptoms of depression and boost self-esteem.
Another study published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience found that an unhealthy diet could result in changes to neurotransmitters and hormones leading to increased anxiety and depressive symptoms. The study also showed that eating a quality diet rich in nutrient-dense, high-fibre, whole foods can help foster healthy brain functioning, and thus, better mental health.
Foods to Avoid
It is important to know the types of foods to avoid if you want to take good care of your mental health. These foods can be detrimental for our mental well-being due to the way they affect our brains.
Processed and refined foods: Studies have shown that eating a large amount of processed and refined food can cause depression, lower self-esteem, and damage our neurotransmitters – which can contribute to anxiety and other mental health issues.
Alcohol: While it might be beneficial in moderate amounts, regular excessive consumption of alcohol can alter our brain’s chemistry leading to depression and anxiety.
Sugary foods: Eating a lot of sugar can lead to a crash in our blood sugar levels, depriving our bodies of energy they need in our daily lives, which can contribute to fatigue and depression.
Foods to Enjoy
To improve our mental health, it is beneficial to eat certain foods that can positively affect our mental well-being.
Fruits and Vegetables: Eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables is important for our mental health. They are packed with micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can help with stress and elevate our mood.
Nuts and seeds: These are packed with healthy fats, proteins, and minerals and have been found to provide an anti-stress benefit, as they contain omega-3 fatty acids which lower inflammation.
Whole grains: Eating whole grains can nourish the brain as they are packed with complex carbs which can help us stay energised.
Having a balanced diet is not only important for our physical health, but our mental health as well. Eating the right foods can help us stay healthy and affect our mood. Avoiding unhealthy foods such as processed and refined foods, alcohol, and sugary foods can be beneficial to our mental health. Eating more nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains can help improve our mental well-being. It is important to keep good mental health to maintain overall health and happiness.