Mental Health and Nutrition
Researchers have frequently been studying the consequences of diet and nutrition on mental health. Many of them have seen that people who develop a standard Western diet, which includes hugely processed foods and combined sugars, have higher risks of evolving anxiety and depression.
Although the bulk of the research to date has focused on the advantages of the Mediterranean diet, other dietary patterns may also have a positive effect on mental health. In this article, we assess any of the evidence suggesting that healthy nutrition can improve mental health and help manage or prevent certain conditions. We also investigate how food affects our mood.
Nutritional psychiatry, which some regard as psycho nutrition, is a new field of study that concentrates on the effect of diet on mental health.
Most studies have centered on the results of the standard Western diet and the Mediterranean diet.
The research suggests that the more nearly a person follows a Western diet, with its highly processed foods, the more at danger they are for depression and anxiety. People who develop a Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, appear to be less likely to have mental health ailments.
Factors that can negatively alter neurogenesis in adults include:
- oxidative stress
- great fat diets
- high sugar diets
Healthy foods and habits appear to increase neurogenesis. These include:
- diets that incorporate polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), curcumin, and polyphenols
- a diet that satisfies calorie requirements without a person overeating or undereating
- physical activity
There is no particular diet that is most beneficial for mental health, but some eating guides appear to be better than others.
Among the usual diet plans, the Mediterranean diet has the most strong evidence supporting its capability to decrease the indications of depression. It is also a food that experts routinely value for overall health and well-being.
Compounds in the Mediterranean diet that have ties to more moderate depression rates incorporate:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
The Mediterranean food consists of:
- lots of fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- beans and pulses
- nuts and seeds
- olive oil
- low-to-moderate quantities of dairy products, fish, and poultry
- minimal red flesh
- eggs up to four times a week
- low-to-moderate quantities of wine
Short-term calorie limitation has shown some promise for managing the symptoms of depression.
Experts have determined calorie restriction as “a reduction in energy intake well below the number of calories that would be used ad libitum.” The amount of the limitation will vary depending on the individual’s needs.
One study that looked at the connection between food intake and depression limited calorie restriction as a 30–40% reduction in calorie consumption while maintaining protein, vitamin, mineral, and water intake to maintain proper nutrition. According to this definition, a person who usually eats 2,000 calories per day would eat between 1,200 and 1,400 calories, preferably.
A person may not need to lessen their calorie consumption by this much, however. Researchers also remarked that in an earlier study, unless healthy people who reduced their calorie intake by 25% for six months also had decreased depressive symptoms.
It is important to note that calorie limitation can sometimes lead to the rise of an eating disorder. It is also not reliable for people who have an existing eating disorder or behaviors correlating to disordered eating.
Anyone who wants to try calorie restriction should also talk to a doctor or a registered dietitian about how to ensure that they are receiving enough nutrients.
It is also essential not to restrict calories or follow a low-calorie diet in the long term, as this can harm neurons and create depressive symptoms more serious.
There is some proof that intermittent fasting can help enhance mood and mental well-being.
Clinicians have seen that fasting could commit to improvements in mood, as well as people’s subjective sense of well-being, alertness, tranquility, and, in some instances, euphoria.
A small study, including men over the age of 50 years determined that in comparison with a control group, those who engaged in intermittent fasting had significant reductions in:
- mood disturbances
However, other research has produced conflicting results. A study in unskilled weightlifters found that 48 hours of fasting-induced negative mood changes, including significantly enhanced anger and slightly increased confusion and fatigue.
As with calorie limitation, intermittent fasting is not reliable for everyone. People with a history of eating maladies or blood sugar problems, such as hypoglycemia, should not try intermittent fasting without a doctor’s supervision.
Another study showed a relationship between polyphenols and both the restriction of depression and the development of depressive symptoms. The polyphenols that the researchers considered came from:
Foods or diets to avoid
Several types of research have shown that people who follow a Western diet containing highly processed foods are more likely to have higher depression or persistent mild depression.
Another study revealed that women who ate unhealthy Western-style diets had increased psychological symptoms. The foods that these participants were eating incorporated:
- processed foods
- deep-fried foods
- refined grains, such as white bread
- sugary commodities
Related unhealthy dietary patterns that typically lead to obesity, diabetes, and other physical health problems can also add to poor mental health.
Inadequate nutrition can lead to physical health problems, such as obesity. However, several demographic variables could influence the direction and strength of the relationship with mental health, including the severity of obesity, socioeconomic status, and level of education, gender, age, and ethnicity.
The connection between obesity and mental health problems is complicated. Results from a 2010 systematic review found two-way relationships between depression and obesity, finding that people who were obese had a 55% enhanced risk of developing depression over time. In contrast, people experiencing depression had a 58% increased risk of becoming overweight.
Researchers are still learning how diet affects mood. Balanced mental health nutrition can help a lot. A Mediterranean diet is one nutritious diet that can absolutely influence a person’s weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other measures of health. Calorie restriction and fasting may also affect a person’s mental health.
While a healthful diet may aid treatment for poor mental health, anyone experiencing the symptoms of a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, should speak to a doctor.
Also, read “Your Key To Success Mental Health Definition“