Nutrition and your mental health.
You are what you eat! Such an overused metaphor, but not too far from the truth. Sure, if you eat a hamburger, you won’t turn into a walking Big Mac, but the food that you eat does affect your health – both physical and mental health. You don’t need to become obsessive about your food consumption – treating yourself from time to time to a Cadbury crème egg or a Lindt truffle can be great reward for effort – but a simple understanding that what you put into your body can influence things like your energy levels, mood and even behavior is good stuff to know.
Clearly some people like to know more than others. There are some professionals out there now dedicating their lives to studying the connection between diet and mental health. It has turned into such an important topic that there is now a field of study known as nutritional psychiatry, which is dedicated to researching the link between what we eat and the effects on our mental health. People much smarter than most of us are doing some heavy hitting research in this space and it is now very hard to refute the strong connection between a healthy diet and a healthy mind.
Check out some suggested dietary tips for improved mental health below.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Eat more salad – YES! You can make friends with salad.
- Organic foods and meals made from scratch.
- Wholegrain cereals, nuts, beans, lentils.
For those looking for a bit more detail. Eat more:
- Salmon (rich in Omega-3)
- Broccoli (high in potassium, folate and Vitamin C)
- Berries (rich in Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants)
- Chia seeds (enormous amount of Vitamin C)
Most of these foods in the ‘eat more’ column are nutrient dense, high in antioxidants and fiber which can have a positive impact on our immune system, gut microbiota, brain functioning and overall mental health.
- Sugary foods – these may cause a nice little initial high/ surge in energy that soon wears off and can leave you feeling tired, low, meh!
- Chocolate – don’t deprive yourself, moderation is OKAY!
- Chips and crisps.
- Ready-made meals and takeaway – typically high in saturated fats and refined sugars that can have a negative impact on brain proteins that are important for good mental health. They are also typically low on good nutrients which are important for healthy brain functioning. It’s a double whammy – low on the good stuff, high on the bad stuff.
- Moderate your alcohol consumption! Unfortunately, drinking alcohol won’t always have the effect you’re after. Sure, a nice glass of rose or pint of lager after a hard day might help to relax you, but in the long run too much of this can contribute to poorer mental health. Regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are essential for good mental health. We aren’t party poopers here at LIVIN, but we encourage you to go easy.