You take your meds regularly, meditate, and see a therapist for your mental health. But what about what’s on your plate? Your nutritional habits may play a role.
A tuna sandwich, a tossed salad, and a cup of berries. Sounds like lunch, right? It may be more than that. Research shows that the foods you put into your body can have an influence on your mental health.
We know that what you eat affects things like diabetes and heart disease, so is it a surprise that nutrition can affect your anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder?
It appears that not consuming the right type of vitamins and minerals, also called micronutrients, may play a role in certain mental health disorders. One
There’s been some research into how taking vitamins and supplements could improve your mental health. This article offers an overview of research into which vitamins may be beneficial for people living with bipolar disorder.
But scientists are calling for more research and larger, more rigorous studies. Nutrition offers a world of potential for new prevention strategies and treatments for those who have a variety of mental health conditions.
It seems that certain foods trigger a release of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in our body like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters play a role in helping us stay calm, focused, and energized.
If the volume of these chemical messengers waxes or wanes too far from the neurotypical, mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and mania could crop up.
Doctors recommend eating foods that keep neurotransmitters functioning smoothly and pave the way for a healthy mind. They also suggest avoiding foods that can derail those neurotransmitters. These include foods that are high in fat and sugar and low in fiber.
For instance, psychologists are exploring the role of omega-3 fatty acids. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties and effects on dopamine and serotonin, omega-3s likely play a role in brain development, functioning, and mental health.
Foods high in omega 3s include salmon, mackerel, oysters, flack seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, omega 3-enriched eggs, hemp seeds, and spinach.
Processed foods may promote the growth of bad gut bacteria and lead to inflammation. And since the brain and gut are ultimately connected, eating foods that negatively affect our gut health could contribute to certain mental health disorders, researchers are discovering.
Inflammation is now thought responsible for a host of diseases including heart disease and diabetes, as well as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, researchers propose that psychological stress, like the kind you feel when you have depression or anxiety, can activate inflammation in the brain.
It’s understood treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce brain inflammation and, with it, the symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.
Following a diet that emphasizes unprocessed foods, like the Mediterranean diet, could help reduce the brain inflammation that may exacerbate mental health disorders.
If you want to leverage food to fortify your mental health, you can try experimenting with your diet.
Try thinking about what you eat. What key foods are you lacking, and what areas of your diet could benefit from nutritious alternatives?
Maybe you don’t get enough fish or haven’t been fond of fruits. Try a prep method or type of catch that is best for people who don’t like fish, or experiment with some fruit variations like fruit jerky or puree to drizzle in your sauces and dressings. See if roasted chickpeas or oven-baked kale gives you that crunch you love and a little salty fix, too.
You don’t need to drastically overhaul everything you eat. See if you can make incremental changes. Whatever adjustments you make, give a new eating regimen substantial time before you decide if it’s working for you. You can even use a notebook, journal, or food app to chronicle what you’ve tried and how you felt afterward.
After some time, you can assess how you feel. Making nutritional changes to boost your mental health is a no-lose endeavor for your body and overall well-being.