Diet and Mental Health

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Promoting Mental Health

According to clinical studies, about 25% of the human population will suffer from a mental illness at least once in their lives. Therefore, a person’s mental health should be well taken care of. Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to prevent future mental health issues from happening. It is very important that we find a way to keep not just our bodies but also our minds healthy. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” Of course, it’s much better to seek the help of a professional when it comes to these matters. But there’s also a convenient and simple way for us to help ourselves. One of the easiest and most effective ways to promote mental health is through a proper diet.

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How Diet and Mental Health

Recent studies show that a person’s diet can greatly improve or worsen his mental health. Diet affects mental health in two ways: directly and indirectly. It can directly affect mental health through the absorption of nutrients which control our hormones, and indirectly through the emotional distress of suffering from a physical condition caused by poor diet. Different food groups can also change a person’s mood. We’ve always believed that experiencing certain emotions can make us crave for a specific food like eating ice cream when we’re depressed. But it’s a little known fact that food can actually affect our current mood, too.

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Food for the Brain

Here’s a list of specific foods/vitamins/minerals and how they affect our mental health.

  1. Caffeine – A cup of coffee generally increases alertness and concentration. But too much of it can result to the feeling of anxiety, depression and nervousness.
  2. Omega-3 (fatty acids) – It improves a person’s mood and affects how our brain sends signals throughout our bodies. The lack of it can cause depression.
  3. Magnesium – People who take adequate amount of magnesium can quickly recover from depression.
  4. Folic Acid – Increased intake of this nutrient can increase how the body responds to medication, specifically for depression.
  5. Tryptophan – It can treat depression because it helps in producing serotonin.
  6. B Vitamins – Links between symptoms of schizophrenia and low levels of certain B Vitamins have been demonstrated.
  7. Sugar – The right amount of sugar improves a person’s mood and energy level.
  8. Vitamin D – It has a clear link to brain health.
  9. Zinc – A low level of zinc can result to various eating disorders especially among teens and young adults.
  10. Iron – According to research, most children with ADHD have very low amount of iron in their bodies.
  11. Vegetables – Studies have shown that eating plenty of vegetables can help protect against the development of Alzheimer’s.
  12. Saturated fats – A diet with high saturated fat and sugar can trigger schizophrenia.

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In order to promote mental health, your diet should have protein, fish and a variety of food. It is also advisable to maintain a healthy weight. You should drink lots of liquids like water and juices but you should limit your alcohol intake. It’s also much better if you’ll exercise regularly and take nutritional supplements. These are just small but really effective steps in promoting and maintaining mental health.