Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Allied Sciences, Nehru Nagar, New Delhi

Diet and Mental Health

Individual dietary intake and nutritional status are important factors that influence mental health and the psychiatric disorders growth. Many mental health researches focus on depression, cognitive impairment, and dementia, and there is insufficient evidence for other psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. When human life span increases, the more incidence of mental illnesses increases, the more attention is paid to them.

he omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, cholesterol, niacin , vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are lists of recommended dietary components that may be helpful to mental wellbeing.

Saturated fat and simple sugar are deemed hazardous to cognitive function. There is contradictory data on the impact of cholesterol; however, cholesterol levels in the blood are usually negatively correlated with the risk of depression.

All food interacts with various systems in the body, including the nervous system, thus, affecting mood. The chemical SEROTONIN plays an important role in this process Feelings of Stress and Anger accentuate our urge to indulge in an impulsive, out of turn, binge session. Joy or heightened mood means cause for celebration, consumption of comfort food may act as a reward stimulus. In both ways, our highs and lows result in binge eating of likely unhealthy foods

Serotonin impacts levels of mood, anxiety, sleep and appetite in our body and has a wide variety of functions in our body. Since 90-95% of this chemical is produced in our digestive tract, maintaining our gut health is essential.

Low levels of Serotonin can be linked to:

  • Anxiousness
  • Worry / Fretfulness
  • Panic
  • Phobias
  • Mental Obsessions
  • Behavioral Compulsion
  • Depression
  • Post-Menopausal Symptoms
  • Sleep-Cycle Disturbances
  • Carbohydrate Cravings
  • Pain

Illicit mood-altering drugs such as Ecstasy and LSD cause a significant rise in serotonin levels.

Food cravings are caused by the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can also cause food cravings.

This is the idea that the body craves certain foods because it lacks certain nutrients.

You are what u eat

What we eat can affect not just our physical health but also our mental health and overall well-being.

A happy diet can avoid, treat and prevent anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

  • Eat healthy and well-balanced diet
  • Eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables everyday--- eating the rainbow- including all colours in your diet helps in giving your body a healthy dose of antioxidants to help support a healthy brain and nervous system.
  • Have dairy and dairy products daily like soya drinks, almond based drinks but be wiser in choosing lower sugar and fat options.
  • Choose healthy fats- fat is your best friend when it comes to brain and it does not make you fat . In fact, healthy fat supports healthy hormones and metabolism. Few examples are coconut, avocado,fish and fish oil, ghee,flax seeds,chia seeds nuts and seeds.
  • Eat naturally fermented probiotic food for a healthy gut&brain connection. We know that these friendly bacteria are crucial for a healthy gut but they also have a major influence on our mental and emotional health.eg yogurt
  • Cut down on excessive sugar intake like sugary foods and drinks as it can prove to be a great step towards feeling better.
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol can have a negative impact on mental health . it can interrupt with sleep pattern and affects your ability to focus . it also interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.
  • nclude wholegrains in your diet-----wholegrains contain a type of amino acid that makes your body produce ‘serotonin’ – also known as the “happy chemical”! Serotonin helps calm the mind, improve your mood, and keep your sleep cycle on track – all of which is helpful for maintaining a good headspace.

Few Food Items for Healthy Mental well being :

  • Greens such as Spinach, Cabbage, Asparagus.
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Fish Oil
  • Coconut
  • Turmeric
  • Beet root, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, Zucchini
  • Berries, Oranges, Peach, Pear, Apple
  • Good Quality Proteins – Egg, Cheese, Almonds, Nuts

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