The Relationship Between Nutrition And Mental Health

The relationship between nutrition and mental health

Nutrition refers to the process by which the body obtains, uses and incorporates the nutrients necessary to be healthy and function properly. When we talk about the relationship between mental health and nutrition, it is worth emphasizing that it is complex and multifaceted.

Several studies have shown how diet influences people’s mental well-being, mood and cognition, but the effects vary from person to person.

A balanced and varied diet, combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes stress management and regular physical exercise, contributes to both mental and physical well-being.

What is the relationship between nutrition and mental health?

Diet quality can directly impact brain function and emotional well-being. There are different fundamental aspects of this relationship.

Serotonin and dopamine (neurotransmitter synthesis) are influenced by some nutrients. Tryptophan (this amino acid is present in turkey and some dairy products) is a precursor to serotonin, which has an important role in regulating mood. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish and, for example, nuts such as walnuts) are key to brain structure and proper functioning. Its multiple positive effects on mental health have been proven and it can also be associated with a lower risk of suffering from depression.

Some studies suggest that chronic inflammation is likely to be linked to mood disorders such as depression. An anti-inflammatory diet that contains a variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats will help reduce inflammation. In addition, there are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables (which can be protective in mental health) and that can protect the brain against stress related to neuropsychiatric disorders.

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On the other hand, Excessive consumption of sugars and foods high in blood sugar can have a negative effect on energy and mood, providing fluctuations in blood sugar levels. The gut-brain axis connection (between gut and brain) states that mental health will be influenced by the health of the intestinal microbiota. To achieve a healthy microbiota, a diet rich in fermented foods and fiber is recommended.

When there are deficiencies of some nutrients such as folic acid, iron and B vitamins, they are associated with mental problems such as depression. Sometimes it is necessary to correct these deficiencies as part of treatment.

Mental health and nutrition issues

When we talk about mental health problems, sometimes they are associated with poor nutrition. Poor nutrition could intensify mental disorders or influence their development. Some of the health problems that are related to poor nutrition:

How to choose a diet that provides all the nutrients

A good diet helps prevent these problems. In this sense, the Mediterranean diet has been related to a lower risk of suffering from mental imbalances and optimal cognitive performance. This diet includes fresh foods such as fish, olive oil and nuts.

It should be noted that as we have mentioned previously, the relationship between nutrition and mental health is multidimensional and there are other factors that also play an important role such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. If there is any doubt about the eating plan, it is advisable to consult with health professionals such as doctors and nutritionists, they will provide personalized guidance.

Opting for a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients is essential to maintain good health.

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What nutrients are the most recommended?

First, it is necessary to consume a wide variety of foods from all groups such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains and lean proteins. When organizing meals it is key that they combine carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins (make sure to include different types of foods).

As for portions, it is necessary to control them so as not to consume too many calories or, on the contrary, too few. In addition to providing necessary nutrients, a balance of calories also helps maintain a healthy weight.

You must ensure that the proteins included in the diet are of quality, some of them are: fish, eggs, legumes, lean meats, among others.

Limit saturated and trans fats adding more healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, etc.

On the other hand, fiber is essential for digestive health and helps maintain adequate blood glucose levels. We must also not forget to drink enough water during the day, this is essential for the absorption of nutrients and for many bodily functions.

Intake of processed foods and added sugars It is advisable to reduce it and opt for other fresh and natural options.

It is also important to emphasize that if someone suffers from medical conditions, has specific dietary needs or wants to change their diet, it is best to consult with a specialist.

It is worth remembering that nutritional needs will vary depending on the physical activity the person performs, their age, gender and medical conditions. It is advisable to adapt the diet to personal needs to ensure that all the necessary nutrients are consumed.