Most of us understand that the foods we eat have a direct impact on our physical health and well-being. But, did you know that the foods you eat can also affect your mental health?
The relationship between food and mental health becomes obvious when you step back and consider how much our moods guide our food choices–there’s a reason why we tend to reach for comfort foods and desserts during stressful moments.
There are many foods that can have a positive effect on your overall mood and mental health. Improved nutrition has been shown to boost the effectiveness of traditional mental health treatment methods, particularly for people who deal with depression or anxiety. And, even if you don’t live with one of these conditions, eating enough of the right foods can still positively affect your mood.
Here are a few nutritional tips that can help you experience the mood-boosting power of food.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Although eating sugar can give you a rush of happiness in the moment (especially if you have a major sweet tooth!), regularly eating large amounts of processed sugar can increase your long-term risk of suffering from depression and anxiety. A 2017 study that examined the sugar intake of over 20,000 people found that participants who ate more than 67 grams of sugar per day increased their risk of suffering from depression or anxiety by 23% over a period of five years.
Try The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to offer a variety of mood-boosting benefits. This diet involves eating plenty of healthy fats, which can be found in foods like fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet also encourages eating plenty of leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. And, it’s also important to limit your intake of sweets and alcoholic drinks while following the Mediterranean diet.
Many of the foods that are commonly enjoyed by those who follow the Mediterranean diet have been linked to improvements in mood. Healthy fats are often an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial nutrients for a healthy brain. And, leafy green vegetables can be a great source of the B vitamin folate, which helps to regulate serotonin, a hormone that plays a key role in regulating our emotions. Deficiencies in this nutrient have been linked to increased rates of depression.
Add More Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Your Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in brain health, so, it’s not surprising that deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and memory loss. Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly found in fatty fish and seafood, but other great sources of this nutrient include:
Eat Foods That Are High in Magnesium
Eating foods that contain magnesium is essential for your physical and mental health. This nutrient plays a key role in the production of serotonin, and low levels of magnesium can lead to fatigue, bad moods, and increased stress levels. Low magnesium levels have also been linked to depression. You can add more magnesium to your diet by eating foods like:
The connection between food and mental health is one that should never be ignored. That’s why it’s important to fuel your body with foods that offer plenty of beneficial nutrients to maintain your physical and mental health. Eating more healthy foods like avocados, leafy green vegetables, and nutritious fruits can help you live a happier and healthier life in more ways than one!
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Kendria Patterson is a freelance health and wellness writer and digital marketer. She has a passion for writing content that inspires others to live happier, healthier lives. Some of her favorite topics include nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, and self-care. Learn more about her online at www.kendriawrites.com.