Nutrition and Mental Health
The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research released a statement, this September, emphasizing the enormous volume of clinical evidence that shows diet not only influences risk for mental health disorders, but also the outcomes for treatment. Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to various mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and psychosis 1,2. Even general eating habits such as eating more processed foods has also been linked to increased risk of depression and bipolar disorder 3. Food can also have curative effects. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of depression as an adjunct to medication, but also when compared to a placebo 4. There appears to be no end to the connection between how we eat effects how our brain functions.
As a nutritionist, my utmost priority to get my clients to feel their best. Weight loss may be a priority, but finding ways to achieve not only that, but making sure you are feeling well, have energy, and a stable mood is also very important. And thankfully, often the ways in which get to an optimum weight, also means optimal mental health.
Here are a few, of many, things you can do to help you feel your best mentally:
Eat in regular intervals: keeping your brain nourished with a regular stream of fuel makes you feel your best.
Drink lots: staying hydrated can stave off headaches and keep you feeling more energized.
Eat whole foods: avoid processed foods that have little nutrition and are high in fat and salt.
Take an omega-3 and vitamin D supplement: Canadians are often deficient in vitamin D because we live so far north. We also tend not to eat enough fish, nuts or flax, to meet our omega-3 requirements. Being deficient in either of these will effect mood.
1Crews, M., Lally, J., Gardner-Sood, P., … Goughran, F. Vitamin D deficiency in first episode psychosis: A case–control study. Schizophrenia Research. 2013; 150:533-537
2Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Mykletun A, et al. Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. Am J Psychiatry 2010; 167: 305-311
3Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Mykletun A, et al. Diet quality in bipolar disorder in a population-based sample of women. J Affect Disord 2011; 129: 332-337.
4Osher, Y., Belmaker, R.H. Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2009;15(2):128-33