How Do Diet and Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

We follow a healthy diet plan for managing our physical health but what we eat equally matters to our mental health. Many studies have found that eating good food affects our mood and the way we behave. Whatever we drink and eat affects how we feel. Hence, it’s important to know what you are eating and how it’s going to affect your health.

Everything we do in our lives like think, eat, touch, and breathe is controlled by our brains. To function properly our brains also require energy just like any other organs in our body. Foods that we eat affect our grey matter. Although there’s no particular food that will prevent you from any old-age disorders some foods will surely make a difference.

In this blog, we will discuss how food affects your mind and mood. And we will see the types of foods that are good for mental health. Research has shown that there’s a correlation between food and mood. Hence, you must keep a close eye on what you are eating.  Below are the ways food affects your mental health.

How Food Affects Your Mental Health

Eating nutrient-rich food affects your brain and how it performs. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals nourish your brain and prevent oxidative stress. This is the reason most doctors and nutrient psychiatrists suggest following a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Food can affect your gut health

Unhealthy gut health affects your immune system and this also impacts your mental health. Poor eating habits, unhealthy diet, alcohol, heavy meals, or no meals can affect your gut health. A healthy gut system is responsible for observing nutrients and removing waste products. This plays a vital role in your overall health like body, mind, and soul.

Here are the worst foods for your gut health

  • Refined sugars
  • Refined grains
  • Packaged or canned foods
  • Excessive saturated foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fried foods

The best foods for your gut health

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fiber foods
  • Seafoods
  • Probiotics
  • Whole grains
  • Low-sugar fruits
  • Lean proteins

Food can cause mood swings

Mood swings happen usually when you feel tired, hungry, worried, or stressed. Experiencing mood swings is normal for every person. However, feeling this frequently may indicate you have an underlying health problem. You might have experienced mood swings a lot of times but not have noticed the reason behind this. Dr. Shashi Bhusan Kumar, one of the best psychiatrists in Delhi says that what we are eating can cause mood swings too. He states that there’s an innate relationship between our glycemic levels and our mood. What triggers worries, anxiousness, and irritability is associated with poor glycemic levels and blood sugar fluctuations.

Here are the healthy foods that lift your mood

  • Dark chocolates
  • Fatty fish
  • Fermented foods
  • Oats
  • Banana
  • Coffee
  • Berries
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans and lentils

Worst foods for your mood

  • Processed foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages

Foods can increase stress and anxiety

If you are not following a balanced diet, you may feel anxious and stressed. Your primary hormone cortisol levels is responsible for stress. Poor diet can increase the level of cortisol levels. This happens when you eat lots of processed foods and junk foods. It will cause stress and anxiety by producing oxidative stress which is associated with some anxiety disorders like panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. While there are no specific foods, some foods may help you to reduce stress and improve your well-being.

Here are the types of foods you should eat to reduce stress

  • Food rich in vitamins A, C, and E
  • Prebiotic and probiotic foods
  • Magnesium-rich foods
  • Lean proteins – chicken, eggs, and fish

These are certain ways through which food affects your mental health. And this is why one should always follow a good diet for good mental and physical health. A healthy diet and nutrients affect your health in both good and bad ways. If you are already struggling with your mental wellbeing. For this, you should consult your psychiatrist to know what you should eat and what to avoid.

Let’s discuss some of the good rich-nutrient foods that are good for your mental health.

Best Foods for Your Mental Health

People may not know this, but certain food indeed has the potential to improve our mental health. As we have discussed food affects your mental health. Now, let’s see the type of foods that you must eat to reduce the risk of anxiety, depression, and stress and improve your mental wellness.

Here are the types of foods that you should eat.

Foods rich in vitamin B6

Deficiencies in vitamin B6 have been linked with some neuropsychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, and even seizures. Hence, you must include vitamin B6-rich foods in your diet such as:

  • Meats – chicken, fish, salmon, tuna, and beef liver
  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Starchy fruits and vegetables
  • Chickpeas

Foods rich in selenium

Selenium is involved in the regulation of thyroid hormone. And the deficiency of selenium affects the mood. The lower the level of selenium the higher the reports of anxiety, depression, and tiredness. So, you should increase the intake of selenium by eating:

  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Meats
  • Cottage cheese
  • Wholegrains
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Mushrooms

Foods rich in flavonoids

Some studies have shown that flavonoids are good to treat some cardiovascular diseases and what is good for cardiovascular is also good for your brain. This improves the brain’s blood flow. Hence, it’s good for your mental wellness. You can incorporate flavonoids-rich food into your diet by eating and drinking the following foods and beverages:

  • Tea
  • Berries
  • Apple
  • Citrus fruit or juice
  • Red wine

Foods rich in vitamin D

There is enough research that has shown that the lack of vitamin D can lead to depression-like symptoms. People who are diagnosed with depression have vitamin D deficiency. So, it is as vital for your mental health as for your physical health. Hence, you must include vitamin D in your diet by adding:

  • Fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Beverages fortified with vitamin D

Foods rich in magnesium

Magnesium is essential for the functioning of all human cells and hence, it is important for your brain too. To have good mental health you must include foods rich in magnesium in your diet like:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fish
  • Beans

Though there are many good psychiatrists available to help you deal with mental disorders, anxiety, and depression it’s important to take care of your mental health as your physical health. A good and nutritional diet can keep you away from many physical and mental illnesses. For more insights or if you are struggling with depression or other mental health issues, you can reach one of the best psychiatrists in Delhi, Dr. Shashi Bhusan Kumar.

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