What is the relationship between food and mental health?

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We know that good nutrition can help us lose weight or improve our health, but we don’t often think about the relationship between nutrition and mental health. But did you know that the two could go hand in hand? Our diet plays a crucial role in our emotional wellbeing. In fact, it is said that the stomach is our second brain. Do you want to learn how to improve your mental health through your diet? Then read on.

What are the best foods to regenerate the relationship between food and mental health?

Mental health depends to a large extent on maintaining optimal nutritional status, as the human brain requires a constant and high amount of energy to function properly, especially glucose. Therefore, eating properly means choosing foods rich in specific nutrients:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that they are antioxidants and contain vitamins A, C and E, which play an important role in combating stress-related disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Fish, nuts and seeds. These are healthy fats containing omega-3 fatty acids that help relieve inflammation and depressive symptoms.
  • Legumes and whole grains. Fibre helps stabilise blood sugar levels in the body, having a positive impact on mood management, and also provides essential nutrients for the brain to function properly.

6 tips to improve your mood through your diet

If you were unaware of the relationship between food and mental health, it’s time to put good habits into practice to change your lifestyle to a healthier one. Here are the tips we give you:

  1. Prioritise real food and eat a balanced diet. Include fresh and seasonal foods in your nutritional regime, avoiding those that are packaged or processed. These foods provide you with the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy mind.
  2. Incorporate healthy fats. Despite the bad reputation that fats have for many, it should be stressed that not all fats are bad. In fact, they are necessary, as foods such as avocado, nuts and fish provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for improving mood.
  3. Don’t skip meals. Many nutrition experts recommend not skipping meals, as this leads to a person feeling hungry from not eating enough. This will lead to feelings of irritability and anxiety.
  4. Limit consumption of processed foods. Foods containing high sugars are often lacking in essential nutrients and can negatively affect our mental health. It is therefore advisable to reduce consumption and opt for healthier alternatives.
  5. Stay hydrated. The brain is made up of a large amount of water, so water is essential for it to function properly. In fact, insufficient water intake is associated with lower mood, less happiness and satisfaction. So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day to keep your mind in tip-top shape.
  6. Strike a balance. Learn to enjoy your meals and avoid extreme dieting that can lead to anxiety and stress. Eating slowly is also a practice that can have a significant impact on your health, as it has many benefits such as increased satiety, improved digestion and reduced stress.

What effects do processed and sugary foods have on the connection between food and mental health?

Processed foods are those that have been modified through industrial processes and have high levels of sugars. This type of food is usually eaten as a fast food due to lack of time or as a snack, as they are usually packaged and ready to eat.

However, we should bear in mind that the World Health Organisation recommends that the consumption of free sugars should not exceed 5% of daily calorie intake. Furthermore, our body does not need sugar to function, but glucose; therefore, we can obtain it from foods that have good nutritional value and avoid those that provide empty calories.

You should also pay attention to your genetics, as this may be an indicator that you may have a tendency to have a higher sugar intake. In addition, a higher intake of free sugars may be linked to a higher risk of obesity or diabetes, and even to some psychological problems such as depression or anxiety.

Therefore, it is important to prioritise a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and avoid excessive consumption of processed and sugary foods to improve your relationship between food and mental health.

If you feel it in your belly, listen to it.

There have been multiple studies on the relationship between food and mental health. Which have concluded that there is evidence that the serotonin found in our gastrointestinal tract improves sleep regulation and mood. So maintaining a healthy microbiota is essential for both our health and our mental health.

In addition, more and more nutritionists and doctors are interested in studying the relationship between genetics and nutrition in order to adjust an individual’s diet to prevent certain diseases and improve their health.

Diet and mental health are two inseparable elements in order to invest in your long-term wellbeing. What about you? Are you already taking care of your diet?