How to Eat Your Way to Mental Health

Published on: 09 Jun 2015
How to Eat Your Way to Mental Health

The 3.3-pound human brain makes up 2% of our body weight and is responsible for at least a quarter of our metabolic functions, so, our grandmothers were absolutely right to stress proper nutrition for optimum mental health.

There is an impressive amount of evidence that links diet and mental health, making it harder and harder to deny that indeed, what we put into our bodies not only affects us physically, but also cognitively.

Food plays an important role in the development and management of specific mental disorders such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. But it also plays a preventative role, reducing the likelihood of these or other mental health disorders manifesting in the first place. Think of it like this: Almost 66% of individuals that have no issues with mental health consume fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, as opposed to those that don’t.

Hopefully you’re chewing on a banana as you read this – if not, go get one.

The Nutrition of Mental Health

When your diet provides you with the required amounts of essential fats, amino acids, complex carbohydrates, water, as well as vitamins and minerals, you are a lot more likely to feeling good, balanced, and energetic. Substitute these with processed food, simple carbohydrates, or fatty and deep fried snacks, and you can quickly put yourself on a mental health highway to hell (Any ACDC fans out there?). So, let’s try to keep away from these terrible but tasty offenders. OK?

According to the Mental Health Foundation:

“A number of cross-country and population-based studies have linked the intake of certain nutrients with the reported prevalence of different types of depression… Those with low intakes of foliate, or folic acid, have been found to be significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those with higher intakes. Similar conclusions have been drawn from studies looking at the association of depression with low levels of zinc and vitamins B1, B2 and C. In other studies standard treatments have been supplemented with these micronutrients resulting in greater relief of symptoms in people with depression and bi-polar affective disorder, in some cases by as much as 50%.”

So, what this should be telling you is that to establish and maintain optimum mental health, you need to eat lots of nutrient-rich food, while cutting out the nutrient-deficient food as much as and as often as possible. Instead, go for options that are packed with antioxidants, flavonoids, selenium, and tons of Omega 3s. And make sure to eat regular, properly balanced meals that include lots of protein and diverse types of fruit and vegetables. And as usual, please don’t forget to drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated.

By adhering to these guidelines you will be able to provide your body with an ideal mix of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, that will surely put you on the path to mental health.

Infographic Copyright: Best Masters in Counseling

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Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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