Is there any link between Nutrition & Mental Health?

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be your food.”

Nutrition affects mental health. What we eat significantly determines our health and mental abilities. Not only physical but mental fitness also has its roots in the nutrition we take. Psychological problems or powers depend upon the food we eat, the amount of food, and the mindfulness of eating well-balanced meals. What we eat is not only food for the body but also the brain.

There are many disadvantages and advantages of eating habits. Having a knowledge of healthy food and types of nutrition within different veggies becomes relevant when having a focus on physical as well as mental health. An inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, depression, stress, laziness, lack of productivity, health issues, and many other psychological problems. Intake of inadequate amounts of junk food, processed food, or sugar leads to many issues that affect work routine and everyday life cycle as well. For healthy physical and mental health, having a strict mealtime becomes important. People sometimes during heavy workloads don’t focus on the necessity to eat on time and thus the intake of food differs. Sometimes, there is less intake of food or nutritious food is replaced by junk food, albeit lesser in quantity but more in calories. Which limits the intake of nutritious food to help both the body and brain to function properly and as a result health suffers.

“Healthy eating habits promote life”

There are two major unwanted phenomena related to one’s nutrition:

Undernutrition: When an insufficient amount of food is taken over a period of time, it results in low immunity and affects physical and mental development. Deficiency of protein and calories makes a person more vulnerable to diseases, which in a way affects mental health.

Over nutrition results in obesity and fatigue because of the intake of excessive amounts of food (junk food) over time. Which lacks nutrition and affects brain power. Gut bacteria are important and help the brain to produce neurochemicals for the regulation of psychological and mental processes. Serotonin and mood stabilizers produce gut bacteria. Whereas, stress produced because of inadequate eating reduces gut bacteria.

What we feel when we eat food, majorly impacts our mental health. Proper nutritious food consisting of proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals is important for the proper functioning of the brain. Intake of food consisting of carbohydrates such as brown rice, green veggies, and millet becomes vital while looking for proper brain functioning. Proteins help to increase the power to think and react. Such as milk, fish, soybeans, seeds, and many more. Fats such as coconut oil, and avocado oil support brain function. Many times the reason behind the lack of nutrition is the intake of junk food while having food starving. It is suggested to have healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, and sweet potato. Having a proper diet plan and timing is important. Food that restores good bacteria such as fermented food should be eaten. Omega 3 Fatty Acids, flaxseeds, nuts, olive oil, food with vitamin D including mushrooms, salmon, spices such as ginger, garlic, tea, almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, etc. should be added to your food diet plan.

Food and mental health, are connected in more ways than one, and hence we should be conscious about our eating habits and how it affects us.

Written By Rutvi Makwana | Edited by Nirjara Poptani