From your early years, your mom probably told you to eat your vegetables and not have too much sugar. It’s no secret that nutrition and diet are connected to your overall well-being, but the connection between diet and mental health is just beginning to be recognized. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that what you eat is directly related to the risk of having anxiety and depression. Your diet plays a role in your mental health.
How Diet Affects Your Mental Health
- What you eat affects brain development
Your brain reaches peak power in your mid-20s, but it never actually stops developing. It needs vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to maintain healthy connections between cells and brain enzymes that power thinking. A diet high in refined sugars and saturated fats can have a negative impact on brain proteins.
- What you eat affects healthy bacteria in your gut
Good bacteria lives in your gut battling bad germs and protects your immune system. Maintaining this system with a healthy diet decreases inflammation in your system, which has a positive effect on your mood. Some studies hint that high-sugar diets worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
- What you eat affects your aging brain
Although your brain continues developing cells your entire life, your brain also ages and loses cognitive power. Whether or not you’re dealing with a mental health issue, you want to protect your brain for the effects of age-related dementia. Some studies show that diets rich in antioxidants improve your learning capacity and keep you younger longer. An unhealthy diet causes your brain to age prematurely and slows down your thinking skills.
What Does a Healthy Diet Look Like?
A healthy brain diet is much like one that you might follow for a healthy heart. Limit processed foods with sugar and fats. Choose whole foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are in their most natural form. Eat low-fat proteins like salmon, grass-fed bison and chicken. Swap out butter for olive or avocado oil. Eat a rainbow of colors, beets, blueberries, kale, squash and bananas.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, improve mood and memory. A lack of folate, which is found in dark leafy greens, has been linked to low moods. Not getting enough iron, a condition known as anemia, is linked to depression. Beans and lentils are good sources of iron and have the ability to stabilize energy levels over time. Dark chocolate has antioxidants linked to mood, focus and concentration. A healthy diet doesn’t mean that you can’t have the foods you love.
Mental Health Treatment for Men
Having a mental health disorder or illness does not mean that you cannot live a full and vibrant life. You do need to learn skills that will help you manage your mental health and be healthier overall. Eating well is just one component to treating mental health issues.
For more information about the mental health programs offered at Waypointe, check out what we have to offer.