With the rising prevalence of mental disorders, the need to understand potential causes, prevention strategies and effective treatment methods has never been greater. Previously, studies and treatments were more focused on prescription medication and therapies. More recently, though, the new field of “nutritional psychiatry” has sought to examine and establish the role nutrition plays on mental health.
Does Food Affect Our Mental Well-Being?
You’re probably familiar with the expression “you are what you eat.” Over the years, various studies and observational literature have examined the connection between diet and overall mental well-being. While the connection between nutrition and mental health is still being studied, there are several clear links between the two.
The food we eat serves as fuel for our bodies. Our brain is just one important part of the body that can either benefit or suffer from what we eat. The right foods will leave you energized and increase brain function, while the wrong foods can leave you lethargic and moody.
It is important to keep in mind that mental illness has other causes and triggers ranging from genetics to environment. But food, without a doubt, does affect our mental well-being.
Which Foods Can Boost Our Mood?
Diets consisting of plant-based foods, complex carbohydrates and plenty of fruits and vegetables increase overall health and can boost our mood. The food-mood connection between a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in lean protein, whole grains, olive oil and fruits and vegetables, has been studied and consistently found to protect mental health and prevent and manage mental illnesses such as depression.
Meanwhile, diets rich in simple carbohydrates, saturated fat, red meat and refined sugars can worsen mental health symptoms.
How Do Nutrients Help Your Brain?
Not consuming the right kinds and amounts of vitamins and minerals, which are also referred to as micronutrients, play a role in mental disorders. In fact, a majority of individuals dealing with mental health problems have deficiencies in micronutrients ranging from omega-3 fatty acids to B vitamins.
Consuming essential nutrients plays a role in controlling symptoms of mental illness such as poor memory and concentration. These nutrients also help your brain by relieving anxiety and improving mood.
What Are Brain-Friendly Foods?
A brain-friendly diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, nuts and low-fat dairy. Brain foods are rich in key nutrients such as:
- Magnesium: This substance can help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These acids improve mood, comprehension and cognitive abilities.
- Probiotics: Probiotics increase the live bacteria in your digestive system, improving the gut-brain connection.
Get Started on Your Path to Mental Wellness Today
At Taylor Counseling Group, our team of clinicians will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your specific needs. By offering accessible and affordable care, we’ll support you on your mental wellness journey and help you reach your goals.
Schedule an appointment to get started on your path to mental wellness today.