Nutrition & Mental Health

Diet influences numerous aspects of health, including weight, athletic performance, and risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that it may affect mental health as well.

Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide. Therefore, researchers continue to explore new ways to reduce the impact of mental health conditions, rather than relying on medications.

Carbohydrates and eating regularly

In order for your brain to be able to function it needs energy. This energy comes from blood glucose, and the glucose in our blood comes from the carbohydrates we eat.

When we don’t have enough energy for the brain, we can feel tired and unable to think clearly. Ensuring you eat regular meals containing some carbohydrates will help with this. Alongside starchy foods like pasta and rice, sources of carbohydrates include:

  • wholegrains

  • fruits

  • vegetables

  • legumes

  • lower-fat dairy

When your blood glucose rises and falls, it can have an impact on mood, making you feel irritable, low and even symptoms of anxiety. Keeping your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day is key. Try foods that release energy slowly like oats, cereals, nuts and seeds, and try to eat smaller portions throughout the day.

Proteins and fats

Alongside the energy it gets from carbohydrates, your brain needs amino acids to help regulate thoughts and feelings. As protein contains amino acids, it’s important to get enough of this in your diet. Protein is found in lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, cheese, soya products and legumes.

Some people may be under the impression that all fat is bad for us, but this is not true. Fatty acids, like omega-3 and omega-6, are essential for our brains to function well. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, seeds, oily fish, poultry, avocados, dairy products and eggs.

The bottom line:

Nutrition may affect mental health. Consuming the right carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can contribute to improving mental health.

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