The Powerful Connection Of How Nutrition Impacts Mental Health

B Vitamins

You asked us how nutrition impacts your mental health and if there is any correlation.

Such a great question, and here is the answer.

It amazes me how backwards we are sometimes in our approach to nutrition. How can it be that we cannot link what we put into our body – drugs, information, water, alcohol, and yes, food – won’t have some kind of impact, at the very least, on our mental health? 

It’s not rocket science to witness, even in your own best partying, that having three alcoholic drinks in fast succession has an impact. So why wouldn’t that be the case with a big plate of kale or broccoli? Three big drinks like that will alter our state of mind. So will any other food you eat.

B Vitamins

In a fast-paced world where stress and anxiety have become commonplace, we cannot overstate the significance of mental health. Traditional approaches to mental well-being often focus on therapy and medication, a growing body of research suggests that nutrition plays a pivotal role in mental health. 

The Stats

According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, individuals who follow a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, are 33% less likely to develop depression. Compare that to those who adhere to a more traditional Western diet.

But, you don’t have to go to ‘Nutrition University’ to work that out. Consider the adage “You are what you eat”, which takes on a profound meaning as scientists delve into the intricate relationship between nutrition and mental well-being.

Let’s get in the Nutrition Zone

Your big, beautiful brain is a highly complex organ that requires constant nutrients to function optimally. Key players in this neuro-nutritional symphony include omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in abundance in fatty fish like salmon and walnuts, are essential for maintaining the structural integrity of brain cells and facilitating communication between neurons. Antioxidants, prevalent in fruits and vegetables, protect the brain from oxidative stress linked to mental decline and disorders. Does that make sense as you think about your nutrition now?

Then we hit a nutrition and mental health gold mine.

The gut and the brain intricately connect through what is the gut-brain axis. Emerging research suggests that the health of our gut microbiome, the trillions of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract, significantly influences mental health. 

With balance and a diverse microbiome, you can associate with lower levels of anxiety and depression. 

You might want to read that last sentence again! 

So, how can I balance my microbiome? 

Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi, can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, potentially impacting mental well-being. Think Mary Poppins when downing that helping of sauerkraut!

Are you deficient?

Deficiencies in certain nutrients are linked to an increase in the risk of mental health disorders. For instance, insufficient levels of vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” have been associated with a higher prevalence of depression. A little aside here – even on the sunniest of days in the winter, you would have to walk around naked to get as much daily vitamin D into your body. (Screws face in wonder!). Why not order some Vitamin D Drops and take 3 per day from October to April and put your clothes back on?

Likewise, inadequate intake of B vitamins can link to mood disorders. Ensuring a well-rounded and nutrient-rich diet is essential for preventing these deficiencies and promoting mental health.

All the nutrition courses in the world will advocate for this, and you can get it for 1p per day in easy-to-digest bite-sized pieces through 365 Days of Nutrition. I know! A gift!

Poor dietary choices commonly result in chronic inflammation, which researchers have identified as a potential contributor to mental health issues. A diet high in processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats can trigger inflammation. Which may negatively impact brain function and increase the risk of depression. 

On the other hand, anti-inflammatory diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of mental health disorders. And while we are at it, chronic illnesses such as heart issues and cancers too. 

In Short

You can see quite clearly how nutrition impacts mental health, and we will continue to unravel the intricate links between nutrition and mental health. As it becomes increasingly clear that the choices we make in the kitchen can have profound implications for our emotional and cognitive well-being. 

So, let’s savour the opportunity to nurture our mental health with every bite. Let’s recognise that a well-nourished body is the foundation for a resilient and thriving mind.

There’s one thing we love at 365 HQ, and that is a thriving mind!