When people are discussing health, they’re usually talking about either physical or mental health. In school, ‘physical education’ is generally limited to exercise, and mental health education… well, if it exists at all, it’s usually in the form of psychology.
Our current education system often fails to acknowledge the holistic interplay between mind and body. However, even modern science has proven obvious ways that the mind can influence the body, and vice versa.
For example, people experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety – primarily mental conditions – will usually experience physical symptoms like an elevated heart rate or sweating. Conversely, having a healthy body can help to ensure a sound state of mental health.
In this article I’m going to explain how maintaining a healthy diet can help you maintain your mental health and potentially avoid having to go to therapy.
How Diet Influences Mental Health
The brain and body run on a variety of different substances – water, vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and so on. There is a ridiculously complicated interplay of all of these substances in the body, so it can be hard for some people to understand what they need to have a fully functioning body.
However, when the body does have enough nutrients, it tends to function better. This is common sense. The brain, which is a part of the body, will also function better. This will lead to a better state of mental health.
There are a number of different things that can influence brain health and mental health specifically. Deficiencies in certain nutrients, for example, can lead to mental health imbalances or difficulty maintaining the energy needed to have proper cognition.
On the other hand, having too many unhealthy substances in the body can impede the brain from functioning properly, or can lead to mental health instability. People who eat lots of sugar, for example, will be more prone to mental health imbalances because of the ‘high’ and ‘crash’ of sugar.
Here are some of the most common ways in which diet can influence your mental health.
- Deficiencies in any of the B vitamins can lead to a lack of energy in the nervous system and the brain. This can make it difficult to think and can make someone more prone to anxiety or depression.
- Deficiencies in magnesium can make someone more prone to developing anxiety problems. Magnesium has relaxing properties on its own, but a lack of it can cause problems.
- Excessive intake of sugar and trans-fats can lead to instabilities in mental health.
There are many more particular interactions that we won’t get into here. The basic message is that you should make a point of eating a whole, healthy diet.
Diet Tips for Good Mental Health
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to have good mental and physical health.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Not only are fruits and vegetables rich in brain-healthy nutrients, they are lacking in unhealthy byproducts and preservatives. A diet rich in fruits and veggies is the quickest way to good mental health.
- Eat your omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for mental health, to the point that they’ve even been prescribed in France as a medicinal cure for overcoming ADD. Good sources of omega-3s are avocados, olive oil and coconuts.
- Eat varied. Make sure you eat lots of grains, legumes, and veggies. If you must eat meat, eat organic, grass-fed meat and fish that has not been farmed.
Having a good diet can help to prevent the emergence of mental health problems. However, if you have a serious mental health problem, it could be the result of a chemical imbalance. In this case, there’s no substitute for a trained counselor or therapist. If you are in need of counseling, here at some suggestions: