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Nutrition for Mental Health: How to Treat Your Body for Optimal Mental Health

The human body needs the energy to operate. We get the energy from the food we eat. Apart from producing energy for our organs food also plays a big role in our mental health as well. Just like our diet can be held responsible for a cardiovascular disease poor diet can cause mental illness as well. So the right nutrition for mental health can regulate your mind in a good way.


Nutrition is the study that deals with food and nourishment in all living beings. Food is composed of several types of nutrients. Different foods are rich in different types of nutrients. Nutrition deals with how our body deals with them.

The living take in food for 3 main purposes these are:

  • Produce energy
  • Use it for growth
  • Replace and reproduce damaged tissue

The most vital organ in our body is the brain. Basically this is the organ that regulates our mood and creates emotion. Our brain is a highly metabolic organ. It consumes a lot of energy while working. So it needs a lot of fuel.

 

Although the weight of your brain might be just 2% of your body weight it uses more than 20% of your total energy. So to get the best out of your brain you need to give it the right foods. The foods that contain brain nutritions.

How do nutrients influence mental health?

Our diet is the most powerful source of intervention in our body. Food supplies us with all the energy we need for our day-to-day work. Food sources all the basic raw materials we need for any type of repair in our body. 

Though mental health is a complicated issue it has always been linked with some sort of inflammatory effect in your brain. Chemical reactions take place in our body all the time. During those reactions, oxygen molecules are broken into atoms.

These oxygen atoms have free electrons and are called free radicals. The radicals are unstable. They roam around from cell to cell in our body to look for electrons to pair with. That puts the body under stress and can cause body inflammation and other damages. 

Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals. Upon consuming foods containing antioxidants your body can effectively neutralize these free radicals. 

Researchers have long ago linked conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, schizophrenia and even bipolar disorder to inflammation. So they have come to an understanding that these inflammatory molecules have some effects on the chemicals that are released in the brain.

Researchers have found encouraging results upon treating mental health issues with supplements that fight inflammation. Supplements such as foliates, types of antioxidant amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 were effective to reduce symptoms of mental illness. So the evidence validates the importance of nutrition for mental health.

Diet for depression

Unfortunately, food is one of the most ignored subjects when it comes to taking care of your mental health. But researchers have come up with several pieces of evidence of a link between diet and mental health. A variety of foods have been known to have mood-boosting capabilities.

Nutritional psychiatry explains the changes that nutrition can make to ones mental health. You might have noticed it a few times after every session a binge eating the way you feel lethargic. This is because when you binge eat your brain produces more dopamine.

Serotonin is a natural mood booster that has a link with depression. It is a neurotransmitter that improves mood and cognitive functions. Serotonin is naturally available in foods. Some serotonin foods are sea fish such as salmon, poultry, Spinach, seeds, milk, soy products, nuts. Eating foods above will boost serotonin. 

A healthy diet should also contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B to resist cognitive decline. These types of foods promote better body functions. This way they also reduce the symptoms of depression. Healthy and balanced food for mental health is a 

Consumption of the following foods can lead to great results to boost your mental health:

  1. 1. Fruits
  2. 2. Fish
  3. 3. Nuts and beans
  4. 4. Vegetables
  5. 5. Poultry
  6. 6. Whole foods
  7. 7. Probiotics
Food for brain

Food that might hamper your mood is

  • 1. Fast food
  • 2. Sugar
  • 3. Alcohol
  • 4. Caffeine
  • 5. Processed and refined grains
  • 6. Carbonated drinks

A diet rich in protein, fats and good carbs can be the right fix for mental health as well as many other problems. To this extent dieticians have recommended Mediterranean diet composed mostly of fruits and vegetables. Diet not only can prevent depression but also several other desires such as ADHD, Alzheimer disease and so on.

What is a balanced diet?

You have definitely heard the term balanced diet at some point in your life. A balanced diet consists of a variety of food consisting of all types of nutrients. A balanced diet helps provide all types of nutrients a person needs. This improves overall health and well-being.  

 

Normally a balanced diet refers to eating high-quality foods containing a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants combined with a good portion of carbs, protein and fats.  The 7 nutrients that form a complete balanced diet are:

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body. Living beings get the biggest portion of their required energy from carbohydrates. 

Inside our digestive system carbs are broken down into glucose. This is the main fuel for our body and brain. Without appropriate consumption of carbs, our body will start breaking into the proteins in our muscle for energy.

Simple carbs like rice, white bread is digested immediately within an hour or so after consumption. Complex carbs take some time to break. So they make us feel fuller for longer. So consuming such carbs will avoid unhealthy snacking. Whole grains, cereals, vegetables and fruits contain complex carbohydrates.

2. Fats

Fat is an essential nutrient for the human body. Although it has earned a bad rap it is very essential to boost energy, protect organs and absorb vitamins.

 

Trans fats and saturated fats found in fast food and processed food are undoubtedly bad for our health. They risk heart disease and shouldn’t be consumed regularly.

 

On the other hand naturally occurring unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, avocado and almond are good for our health

3. Proteins

Protein is the essential ingredient that forms our muscle. They give our body strength, structure and shape. They play an important role in the production of enzymes and hormones. 

Proteins are composed of small building blocks called amino acids. They compose the living cells. There are around 20 amino acids. 

Protein can be consumed from both animal and plant sources, but to ensure all essential amino acids we should include a variety of protein sources in our diet. 

Such as fish, meat, eggs, nuts, beans and so on. 

Food pyramid

4. Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are together responsible for hundreds of roles in the human Body. These are organic compounds that cannot be synthesized in the human body. They are available in naturally occurring foods. Small amounts of these are very important for metabolism growth and activity within the body. The known vitamins are vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K.

 

Minerals are chemical elements required as an essential nutrient by the living. They perform basic functions necessary for life and form the major structural elements. Minerals find their way into our body from the soil through the various plant and animal-based foods. The most important minerals for human life are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and sulphur. We also need small amounts of iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium. 

5. Dietary Fibre

Dietary fibre or roughage is plant-based nutrients. They cannot be fully digested by the human body. But the consumption of such foods is necessary to make us feel fuller for longer. They are also important to eliminate toxins from our body and keep our cologne and excretory system working harmoniously. It’s recommended to take 25 grams of dietary fibre each day. 

6. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Omega-3 and omega-6 are two essential fatty acids crucial for normal growth and development of the human body. A healthy balance of these two fatty acids is instrumental for proper mental growth. They occur naturally in poultry, eggs, nuts, hulled, sesame, seeds, cereals, durum, wheat, whole-grain bread, pumpkin seeds and so on.

7. Water

Water is the most important component of living beings. About 70% of the human body is composed of water. So it is an essential need to stay hydrated. Water regulates our digestion, waste removal, our body temperature and is an essential element of every cell. So consumption of 1.5-2 litres of water is necessary for all human beings every day.  

Traditionally we may not have related dietary patterns with our mental health. But science has definitely brought the thing to light. We are all what we eat. So our eating habits can play a big role in all aspects of our life. 

Try out our Mental Health and Nutrition Course

Learn more about connection between your food habits and mental well-being
July 14, 2020

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