How Diet Affects Mental Health – Health & Wellness

The way you eat affects more than just your physical health: it can also determine your mental health. In the next article, we uncover the science of food and mood.

How diet affects mental health has long been ignored. Most of the existing scientific research and literature focuses solely on physiological and nutritional aspects. However, at present, psychology and psychiatry pay special attention to this area for a number of reasons.

For example, the publication Frontiers in Nutrition emphasizes that proper nutrition will prevent the development of various mental disorders. In the same way, we cannot ignore the fact that the digestive system is often viewed as that “second brain” that we should take care of much more.

We are faced with a topic as interesting as it needs to be, which is worth delving into, which we will do right now.

How Diet Affects Mental Health

In everyday life, we often hear that “we are what we eat.” However, we are the result of a complex combination of factors that range from our lifestyle habits to genetic predisposition and experience. Knowing that diet affects mental health is one of the variables – among many others – for understanding well-being.

In recent years, this issue has received more and more attention. So much so that providing healthy dietary advice to mentally ill patients is most often practiced in a clinical setting. Diet and mood have an important relationship, which we invite you to learn about.

1. Production of neurotransmitters

The essential nutrients we get from food, such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, are critical for the synthesis of our neurotransmitters in the brain. Lower levels of serotonin and dopamine mediate, for example, mood with depressive symptoms.

Thus, papers like the one published in the journal Molecules point in the same direction. Our neurochemical levels are affected by our eating habits and dietary patterns. Therefore, it is very important to always maintain a healthy, varied and complete diet.

2. Dangerous excessive consumption of sugar

How diet affects mental health is also related to sugar. We understand that fair and adequate consumption of this type of sweetener is not dangerous, but abuse is. So much so that consumption of sugary foods, drinks and added sugars has been linked to the development of depressive disorders, an article in Scientific Reports notes.

In the same way, if there is something common among a part of the population, it is to resort to these products for the sake of the pleasant sensation that they give for a short moment. Industrial baking, for example, provides a pleasant rush of endorphins, but does not satisfy hunger, but raises it and changes mood.

3. Inflammation and junk food

Our diet and the foods we include in it can increase our risk of depression or an anxiety disorder. Thus, one of the factors involved in this variable is the inflammatory processes caused by certain foods. The data is undoubtedly interesting, and it is important to take it into account.

The journal Health, Population and Nutrition shared 2019 research on this very topic. It has been seen that there are foods with inflammatory potential that can cause depressive or anxiety symptoms in people.

In general, diets rich in saturated fats as well as classic processed foods contribute to these unhealthy cycles.

Excessive and constant consumption of industrial foods or foods rich in saturated fats can affect our mood. We will feel more irritable, lethargic, sad, with less motivation and energy.

4. Gut microbiota and our “second brain”

Have you heard of this crucial relationship between the brain and our gut? We can say that this last organ is the multipurpose branch where neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and even gamma-aminobutyric acid or Gamba are synthesized. Your internal imbalance will also affect our mood.

From Clinics and Practice, they also highlight how a diet rich in probiotics can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. The ability of these products to restore and care for the intestinal microbiota is so significant that we should not lose sight of it. A diet rich in kefir, natural yogurt, or fermented soybeans is helpful.

5. Our relationship with food and mental health issues

There is an undeniable fact, and that is that we do not always feel the best about food. Sometimes food acts as this mechanism to relieve anxieties, fears, sadness, demands on yourself, and even loneliness. Some people feel guilty while eating and need cleansing activities (vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics).

Books such as Heal Your Relationship With Food (2021) by clinical psychologist Juliet Rosewall, an eating disorder expert (TCA), give us a portrait of this complex reality. Behind this type of extreme behavior, sometimes emotional problems are hidden, which little by little lead to conditions such as anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, etc.

6. Beware of Nutrient Deficiencies

The mechanisms by which diet affects mental health are also related to nutrient deficiencies. It is possible that due to inadequate or even restrictive nutrition, we suffer from a deficiency in those elements that our brain needs.

For example, the journal Nutrients offers an interesting study of the role of magnesium in some mental pathologies. So much so that depressive symptoms can improve to a certain extent if the intake of this mineral is increased. But there are other elements that we cannot neglect and whose shortcomings can affect our well-being. They are the following:


· calcium,

· iron,

· Vitamin D,

omega-3 fatty acids,

Vitamin B complex.

Following a healthy diet acts as a crucial pillar to improve our mental health. If we combine it with other psychological strategies, we will have more protective factors that mediate our well-being.

What diet can improve your mental health?

Maintaining and promoting good mental health depends on many factors, some of which are not always under our control. The evidence for this is genetic predisposition, adversity, or living in certain social contexts.

Now there are always variables that can be optimized to take care of the state of mind; food is one of them. Let’s see which products are suitable for this purpose:

· Whole grain products.

· Probiotics: kefir, yogurt, fermented soybeans.

· Antioxidants: lemons, oranges, wild berries.

Magnesium: almonds, spinach, bananas, cashews.

· Vitamin D: eggs, milk and sunbathing with protection.

· Foods rich in B vitamins: green leafy vegetables, lentils.

When is the right time to ask for help?

In conclusion, we can all strive to slightly improve our diet as well as our relationship with food. This is the key to a good quality of life; we will feel more positive and energetic, ready to conquer goals and objectives.

Also feel free to consult nutritionists and psychologists if we have any concerns or doubts about this. Our well-being deserves it.

Source: Mind is beautiful

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About Allen Whyte

I'm Allen Whyte, a writer for with 5 years of experience. I love bringing you the latest news and stories from around the world. Join me on this exciting journey as we explore the fascinating world we live in!

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