How can good nutrition help with mental health?

Nutrition Blog

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is something that we associate with our bodily health. However, what we often overlook is how important it is to put effort into our mental health and stability. Having a healthy mind is just as important as being physically fit, but unfortunately, we usually put our mental struggles on the back burner. Luckily, research suggests that you might be able to work on both your physical and mental health at the same time, by eating a balanced, nutritious diet that supports not just your bodily functions but your mental state too.

Why Is This Important?

If you think of your body as a machine, your brain is the engine that runs the whole project – it is continuously working and therefore needs fuel to keep functioning correctly. If you were only to feed a machine poor-quality, cheap fuel it will eventually start to perform poorly and slow down.

The food that we eat is our fuel and therefore, what we eat has an immediate effect on the way that our body works. If you only eat low-quality fuel, your body will start to feel the effects. In terms of food, this means eating a lot of processed foods and a diet high in refined sugars. These foods do not just have an effect on your physical health, as studies show that there is a correlation between this kind of diet and mood disorders. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that you are getting the right type of nutrition regularly.

How A Bad Diet Makes You Feel

A diet that consists of a lot of processed foods and refined sugar is unhealthy for many reasons, but when it comes to affecting your mood, it can have a drastic effect.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your body that regulates your sleep, appetite, and moods. Therefore, any disruption to the production and cycle of serotonin in your body will have a significant impact on the way that you feel. Interestingly, serotonin is mainly produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which is also the site of millions of nerve cells. This means that the health of your digestive system has a direct link to your emotions. Processed foods and foods high in refined sugar can cause inflammation in your digestive system, which will cause you discomfort, and this, in turn, will affect your mood and energy levels.

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How A Good Diet Can Help

In terms of creating a healthy diet to help with your mental health, it is simple – unprocessed, nutrient-rich, low in refined sugar, and fresh vegetables.

Unprocessed foods tend to contain higher amounts of nutrients and vitamins that will help your body to function better. Some nutrients to look out for in particular, for mental health, including omega-3, B Vitamins, and Vitamin D. High amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, that can be found in salmon and dark green leafy vegetables, help to improve brain function and are suggested to reduce the risk of depression.

B Vitamins, such as B12 that can be found in eggs, milk, and meat, help to boost your immune system and have been shown to support mental health. Vitamin D is vital for brain function, particularly when it comes to our moods and critical thinking. You can increase your Vitamin D intake by choosing to include foods such as salmon and tuna, eggs, and other dairy products.

Lastly, as mentioned, your gut health plays an essential role in your mental health so you should avoid foods that will aggravate or inflame your digestive system, such as those with refined sugar, and make sure to eat plenty of probiotic foods that will help you maintain a healthy digestive environment. You should also eat regularly to keep your body fuelled and choose slow-release foods like wholegrain products that will stop your blood sugar from rapidly falling and climbing throughout the day.

It is essential to treat your body with respect and fuel it with good quality foods. Keeping your gut bacteria healthy and eating foods that are high in nutrients will help to improve the way your body functions, and this, in turn, will help you to better understand and deal with your mental health.

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