7 food tips to protect your mental health
"Recent evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health and that a number of mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors.
One of the most obvious, yet under-recognised factors in the development of major trends in mental health is the role of nutrition. The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Nearly two thirds of those who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, compared with less than half of those who do report daily mental health problems. This pattern is similar for fresh vegetables and salad. Those who report some level of mental health problem also eat fewer healthy foods (fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods and meals made from scratch) and more unhealthy foods (chips and crisps, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways).
A balanced mood and feelings of wellbeing can be protected by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.
While a healthy diet can help recovery, it should sit alongside other treatments recommended by your doctor."
A healthy varied and balanced diet is important for both physical and mental health.
So here are 7 simple rules to implement along with regular exercise to improve your mood:
1. Eat regular meals- the brain needs regular supply of glucose ( from carbohydrates) in order to function,
2. Fats- brain is made up of 40%fat, our cells maintain their structure with unsaturated fat found in olive or rapeseed oil which can be used in small amount for cooking. Use nuts and seeds in salads with olive or nut oil as dressings. Try to decrease trans fats found in processed food and use fresh food to improve brain function,
3. Choose high fibre from wholegrain, pulses, seeds, fruit & vegetables. These are rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants for your body to function well. These food are digested slowly, controlling blood glucose to your brain and rest of the body. B vitamins, folate and zinc are good in managing depression,
4. Protein food tryptophan a building block of protein has been shown to play role in depression and improve your mood. Protein food can help you feel fuller and prevent overeating.
5. Oily fish- omega 3 oils in fish may help reduce depression. Try to include 2 portions per week. E.g. salmon, mackerel, pilchards, herring, sardines
And trout. If you don't like fish choose fish body oil supplement containing no vitamin A which can interfere with calcium metabolism, recommended 1g/day,
6. Drink enough fluids- dehydration can affect your mood. Too much caffeine can lead to headaches, irritable /low moods. Limit intake of coffee to 2-3 cups/day and tea to 5 cups/day. Alcohol can dehydrate and lead to vitamin B deficiencies, make you anxious, depressed. Limit to 2-3 units for 5 days/week. Avoid high energy drinks e.g. cola, energy drinks can give you a blood glucose rush followed with a low mood. Recommended fluids is 6-8cups (250ml) per day of non-caffeinated high energy drinks.
7. Your weight -If you are putting on a lot of weight, it may make you feel depressed. Start by eating regular healthy meals not high in pies, chips and processed foods and limit cakes, crisps, chocolate, sugary drinks and alcohol together with increasing your exercise.
For specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby kabeer