Food and Mood | Can You Improve Your Mental Health Through What You Eat?

Food and health have long been studied. Extensive research is being done at all times to discover more and more about the effect of our diet on our body. We are often told that certain … Read More

Food and health have long been studied. Extensive research is being done at all times to discover more and more about the effect of our diet on our body. We are often told that certain foods are good for our hearts, eyes, gut, etc. But have you ever been told that some food can be good for your mental health? If the food we eat can affect all the organs in our body, how is our brain any different? Recent studies on brain and diet has proven that our mental health and food has a significant relationship. This is the aspect, the growing field of Nutritional Psychiatry studies. If you are a student of psychology or science looking for essay writing help, then this would make a good topic for you.

Nutritional Psychiatry is a research field that looks at the relationship between food and mental wellness. The researchers in the field have found much data to support that what you eat has a substantial impact on your mental health. For instance, it is a well-known fact that a healthy diet promotes a healthy gut. The microbes in the gut are responsible for producing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, popularly known as the ‘two happy hormones.’ There are also several studies indicating that people who eat a nutrient-dense diet report less depression and show more happiness.

Even through our personal experiences, we can relate to this. When you feel upset or angry, you tend to crave sugary, oil, junk food, but once you have consumed the same, the emotional state only worsens. This was proven through a study where two groups of clinically depressed people were given two different sets of diet- one healthy and the other unhealthy, alongside the regular therapy, keeping all other lifestyle behaviors the same. After 12 weeks, it was found that a third of people eating a healthy diet were no longer depressed, while only 8% of people from the other group reported the same.

So, if food is such an important determinant of your mental health, what should you eat? The answer is a holistic nutrient-rich diet. Here are some food items that are specifically known to be good for mental wellness:

  1. Oily Fish

Growing up, most people would have heard that fishes are ‘brain food.’ To put it scientifically, fishes have DHA, which is an Omega- 3 fatty acids. It is known to improve long-term and short-term memory, contributing to overall brain health. What is lesser known about it is that it additionally improves mental health and reduces anxiety. However, not all fishes contain DHA in significant amounts. Oily fishes like salmon, sardines, trout, prawns are known to be good sources of DHA. If you are not keen on seafood, then you can have fish oil substitutes instead.

  1. Whole Grains

Most people would assume that a good diet for the brain would imply no carbohydrates. But on the contrary, carbohydrates are essential for good mental health. A study showed that carbohydrates are responsible for releasing serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ which is responsible for improving mood and calming the mind. You should, however, include good carbs like whole grains and millets instead of simple carbs like refined flour and sugar.

  1. Yogurt

As already mentioned before, good gut health has been connected to good mental health. And yogurt provides a good dosage of probiotics to the stomach, aiding in digestion and maintaining overall gut health. Research has found that due to the gut-brain connection, consuming yogurt can impact a person’s mental health, lowering their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

  1. Walnuts

Like mentioned before, Omega-3 fatty acids are your brain’s best friend. And walnuts are a good plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients. They are full of antioxidants that inhibit the oxidation in the brain and the rest of your body. What is more interesting about these nuts is that they are seen to grow new neurons which literally means that they can help you grow new brain cells. You can simply add them to your diet as an in-between meals snack.

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables

One thing that elders emphasized a lot was to eat your greens. What they did not tell you was that it not only grows your body but also improves your mental well-being. They are dense in nutrients that improve the functioning of your brain and body as a whole. According to a study, people who consumed green leafy vegetables on a daily basis demonstrated a slower decline in cognitive function as compared to those who did not consume it often. You can easily include them in your daily diet by incorporating them in your salads, smoothies, bread, and other dishes.

  1. Berries

Berries are often called tiny wonders as they pack a lot of nutrition. They are very high in antioxidants which are essential for repairing cells and combating inflammation caused by free radicals. In addition to these, antioxidants have also been shown to improve the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. You can include a wide range of berries in your diet like blueberries, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.

  1. Beans

Beans and legumes like kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils are full of fibre and antioxidants. They keep you fuller for a longer time, keeping the blood sugar stable and allowing the body to burn more energy which is good for your brain. Beans also contain thiamine which is a vitamin crucial for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for memory.

If you have been struggling with your mental health or simply want to maintain a healthy mind, then it is time you start to watch your diet. Try and include whole foods like the ones mentioned above in your diet. If you a psychology student looking for assignment help UK, then studying this further can give you a fresh perspective on mental well-being, which you can use as a theme for your paper.

About the Author: The author is a specialist in psychology and currently works with Global Assignment Help, helping students with their psychology assignments. She is an avid reader and enjoys travelling in her free time.

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