Nutrition and Mental Health

Nutrition and Mental Health | Expressions Counselling

“The act of nutrition has been proven in research to have a direct correlation with the improvement of mental health” (Selhub, 2021).

I am sure many of you have heard the saying “you are what you eat”. The food that we consume impacts our mental health just as much as our physical health. Eating healthy nutritious foods helps one feel energetic and more focused on daily tasks. On the other hand, consuming foods with high levels of sugar can make one feel depleted and that can make it difficult to focus on daily tasks, such as work, school, and other daily errands.

According to research, individuals who consume a high inflammatory diet show a greater risk of potentially developing depression. This type of diet is high in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, red meat, diet soft drinks, and margarine. On the other hand, a diet with moderate amounts of wine, coffee, olive oil, leafy greens, and yellow vegetables lowers inflammation.

What can you include in your nutrition that ensures your mind is staying healthy?

1. Fibre – Having a diet with moderate to high fibre can help with digestion and is linked to better stress management and better quality of sleep. Foods that include fibre are beans, broccoli, berries, avocado, whole grains, apples, and dried fruits.

2. Functional foods of Indian origin – This includes foods like turmeric, garlic, and pumpkin seeds. These foods help with many mental health issues like neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, epilepsy, stress, and anxiety. They are also very helpful in treating and preventing mental health disorders because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Whole-foods diet – Whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and fish prevent depressive symptoms. If a diet is filled with processed foods, such as sugary desserts and fried foods, it can lead to a greater chance of developing depressive symptoms.

4. Magnesium – Magnesium helps to maintain healthy muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, promotes healthy blood pressure, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. A lack of magnesium in a diet can invoke agitation and anxiety, irritability, restless legs syndrome, sleep disorders and vulnerability to depression. Foods that contain magnesium are unrefined grains, nuts, and green vegetables.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids. – These are very important fatty acids that should be included in one’s diet. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids leads to a reduction in depression when assisted with therapy. Foods that include omega-3 fatty acids are fish, tuna, flaxseed, nuts, seeds, plant oils, eggs, milk, yogurt, and soy beverages.

Overcoming mental health challenges can be challenging and overwhelming. However, you can always start with making small changes in your diet as an act of self-care.

Pavneet Sandhu

Pavneet Sandhu is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at Expressions Counselling. She is passionate about working with individuals to overcome anxiety, grief and depression. She sees clients in-person at our Burnaby and Port Moody locations as well as online.

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