World Health Day 2023: Understanding The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health
This World Health Day, let's understand how a healthy diet can help you boost your mental health.
The link between nutrition and mental health is often overlooked
It is rightly said that "We are what we eat". As we go about our daily lives, it is easy to forget that what we put into our bodies can have a significant impact on our mental health. The link between nutrition and mental health is often overlooked, yet it is an essential aspect of overall well-being. The food we consume does just give us energy, but it influences different aspects of our health including our minds. Researchers have said that there is a correlation between our mental health and the food we eat.
The Gut-Brain Connection
The gut-brain connection is a term used to describe the relationship between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. The gut-brain axis is a complex network of nerve pathways and neurotransmitters that connect the gut and the brain. It is through this connection that the food we eat can influence our mental health.
Research has shown that the gut microbiota, the collection of microorganisms that live in our intestines, plays a critical role in maintaining the gut-brain axis. The microbiota produces neurotransmitters and other signalling molecules that can impact brain function, mood, and behaviour. A healthy gut microbiome can positively affect mental health, while an unhealthy gut microbiome can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
Nutrition and Mental Health
Dietary patterns have been linked to mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety. A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats has been associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. In contrast, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins has been linked to a lower risk of depression and anxiety.
Research has also shown that certain nutrients can play a significant role in mental health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, nuts, and seeds have been linked to a lower risk of depression. Similarly, folate, found in leafy greens, beans, and lentils, has been associated with a lower risk of depression and improved mood.
In contrast, a deficiency in certain nutrients can lead to mental health problems. For example, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, while low levels of iron have been associated with anxiety and panic disorders.
Good food = Good mood
Improving nutrition can be a simple and effective way to improve mental health. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is essential for overall health and well-being. Try to limit processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats, as these can have a negative impact on mental health.
The link between nutrition and mental health is an important aspect of overall well-being that should not be overlooked.
(Dr. Mahi Khandelwal, Senior Clinical Mental Health Expert & Neuro Psychologist, Shalby Hospital)
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