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How To Eat To Support Mental Health

How To Eat To Support Mental Health

Diet plays an important role in our mental health, and eating a healthy diet may contribute to a reduced risk of developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Balanced meals should contain complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats for stable energy levels, and having regular meals can help support our blood sugar levels throughout the day - low blood sugar levels can make us feel tired, irritable and depressed. Continue reading to learn more about how you can eat to support your mental health!

Why You Need Fats In Your Diet!

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to play an important role in brain health. Studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults, and low intakes could therefore pose an increased risk of these conditions. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid as our bodies cannot produce it, so we need to get it through food - good sources include oily fish such as salmon, algae, and nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

The Importance Of Fruit And Veg

It is important to have a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables that provide antioxidants to support general health. Diets high in antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and have been found to have an inverse relationship with depression and anxiety levels, and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has a positive influence on mental health. Fruits and vegetables are generally rich in nutrients and fibre, so they provide benefits beyond just supporting mental health as well!

Gut Health Is Essential For Brain Health

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is also beneficial for gut health - there is plenty of evidence to show that our brains are linked to the gut via what we refer to as the “gut-brain axis”. The gut is also sometimes nicknamed “the second brain” and it has been proven that our mental health is affected by our gut health. Probiotics are also beneficial for gut health, this can be taken as a supplement or can be found through certain foods such as yogurts and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. 

What To Avoid

Although there are many foods that we can include in our diets to support mental health, there are also certain foods that should be limited due to their potential negative health effects. Excessive caffeine intake has been found to increase the risk of anxiety, and one study found that high consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and fast food is associated with greater stress, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation. Alcohol is another product that is associated with poor mental health status, and should be consumed in moderation.

The bottom line..

What is evident is that a balanced and varied diet that is rich in essential nutrients is fundamental to support mental health. Getting enough healthy fats, fruits and veggies, and variety is key, and limiting foods such as refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol can be beneficial in reducing the risk of developing mental health problems. 

What is your favourite way to support your mental health? Let us know in the comments below!
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