Yes, what we eat can have a direct impact on our mental health

If not paid attention to - our food habits can leave us more vulnerable to conditions like – depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s, and bipolar disorder.

Researchers have put in a lot of time and effort into understanding the impact our diet has on our mind. Various studies have led to the concept of nutritional (or food) psychiatry - the association between diet and mental health. Experts now have the required evidence that suggests that an unhealthy diet can result in mental health issues.

How does our diet impact our Mental Health?

  1. Brain growth: Excessive consumption of saturated fats and refined sugar can impact brain proteins negatively. Studies have shown that healthier diets that are rich in nutrients like - Omega-3, zinc, and B-vitamins, boost brain growth as they help boost levels of a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells.

  2. Mood improvement: Magnesium rich food like cashew, spinach, almonds, and peanuts are a great way to naturally regulate mood as they play a major role in the development of serotonin – the chemical responsible for regulating anxiety and happiness levels. Other nutrients that are essential for better mood are - calcium, chromium, iron, vitamin B6 and B12, vitamin D, and zinc.

  3. Healthy Gut: By paying attention to what we eat, we can keep our gut bacteria in control, keep our immune system healthy and protect ourselves against harmful infections. A healthy gut environment (biome) - is responsible for decreasing inflammation, which then affects our mood and cognition.

Food that has positive impact on our mental health

  • Calcium-rich food: Yogurt, Milk, Kale, Oranges, Soya
  • Magnesium-rich food: Almonds, Spinach, Cashews, Peanuts
  • Iron-rich food: Brown rice, Lentils, Chicken Breast, Seafood
  • Food that comprises Vitamin B12: Cheese, Tuna, Seafood, Eggs
  • Food that comprises Vitamin D: Milk, Egg, Cheese, Fish, Mushroom
  • Zinc-rich food: Dry fruits, Fish, Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Chromium-rich food: Broccoli, Grape juice, Mashed potatoes

Although what we eat contributes significantly towards our mental health, it isn’t the sole factor behind our mental well – being. Consult your doctor to know what is best for you.