There is a relationship between what you eat and how you feel. Current research suggests that mental health may depend on food choices. A healthy diet plays a significant role in preventing and treating mental illness.
Diet and mental health
Research focusing on the relationship between dietary quality and mental disorders is fairly new. The knowledge we currently have has largely been accumulated based on animal experiments and human observation studies. The role of nutrition in mental health is very complex, and work is ongoing to unravel many of the mysteries surrounding this topic. Direct evidence linking diet and mental health has yet to be found, but many scientific papers support this correlation.
If you have any mental health problems you should find professional help in addiction or a mental health treatment center.
In the context of the influence of diet on mental health, scientists are studying: the influence of microbiota on the mental state, the functioning of the gut-brain axis (psychobiotics are gaining more and more importance in caring for mental health), as well as the mechanisms of oxidative stress and food that can cause chronic inflammation .
Quality of diet and the risk of depression
The SMILES (Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) study was one of the first randomized, controlled trials to test the therapeutic effect of diet on an existing mental illness. The results of the study indicate that dietary change has been shown to be an effective treatment strategy for major depressive episodes. More long-term studies are needed to apply their results to a larger group of people. Healthy eating patterns are associated with a reduced risk of depression. This was confirmed by a meta-analysis of 21 studies from 10 countries published in Psychiatry Research several years ago.
Similar trends were observed among young people. Researchers at Dheli University reported that they saw a link between healthy eating habits in adolescents and a reduced risk of depression in adolescence.
According to the results of the “ATTICA” study, promoting healthy eating habits can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety in the elderly. The experiment showed that people over 50, whose diets were rich in saturated fats and sugars, were more often accompanied by a feeling of anxiety.
Diet and bipolar disorder
There is a growing interest in the importance of diet in the pathogenesis of bipolar disorder. The interactions taking place are not fully understood. Likely relationships depend on many factors.
Analyzes of patients from different parts of the world showed that the symptoms of bipolar disorder were more severe in people who had a higher rate of energy consumption, their meals were high in carbohydrates and fats, which is characteristic of the so-called Western diet. Such people rarely prepared their own meals.
Treatment of mood disorders requires taking into account the patient’s subjective feeling. The use of dietary changes in people who struggle with bipolar disorder may improve the effectiveness of treatment. In this way, patients can participate in the treatment process and gain a sense of greater control, they have the impression that they are coping better with the disease. Specialists report good tolerance of the taken nutraceuticals.
Nutraceuticals and mental illness
Low levels of certain nutrients, such as zinc, folic acid, omega-3 acids, N-acetylcysteine, magnesium, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, and D can worsen your mood, feel anxious and increase the risk of depression.
Accumulating evidence that additional supplementation with these ingredients offers mental health benefits is inconclusive. Experts recommend supplementing any deficiencies through a properly balanced, varied diet. We do not yet know exactly what the optimal doses of the above-mentioned vitamins and minerals are for different populations, but above all, how the safety of long-term use is. There is still a need for research and obtaining results with greater statistical power. It is best to discuss any planned interventions with your doctor.
What to eat to enjoy a good mental condition?
Reach for prebiotics: onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, dandelion.
Remember about probiotics such as; sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, cucumbers, kefir, kimchi, kombucha.
Related article: Eating disorder
Follow a Mediterranean diet rich in: whole grains, seafood, poultry, legumes, fresh fruit, spinach, kale, arugula, nuts, cruciferous vegetables, olive oil and canola.
Cut down on sugar, animal fats, and red meat.