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Mental Health and Nutrition

Posted on 10th October 2019



Studies show that Nutrition has been implicated in behaviour, mood and in the pathology and treatment of mental illness.

A diet, including fish and enough vegetables and fruits, can be a protective factor for depression, due to it’s anti-inflammatory impact. Also, the inclusion of probiotics could have a positive effect for depressive patients, due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effect induced by probiotics. Eating balanced meals on a regular basis and consuming nutrients for mental health including omega-3 fats, antioxidants and B vitamins are suggested.

The Mediterranean diet is one traditional dietary pattern validated in population-based and intervention studies to improve physical health and quality of life. A large prospective study found adherence to the Mediterranean diet was protective against the self-reported development of depression.

These are my top 7 nutrients that I suggest you include regularly in your diet, in order to have a positive affect on your mental health;

1. Omega 3;
Some main food sources: flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.

2. Antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E;

Some main food sources: broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, sweet and white potato, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocados, spinach, butternut squash and carrots.

3. Magnesium;

Some main food sources: spinach, kale, banana, raspberries, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, black beans, peas, asparagus, salmon, mackerel.

4. Zinc;

Some main food sources: peanuts, cashews, pine nuts, almonds, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas, shellfish, unprocessed meat.

5. B Vitamins;

Some main foods sources; broccoli, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, lentils, beans, cheese, brown rice, fish, chicken and unprocessed meat.

6. Vitamin D;

Main sources: eggs, salmon, mackerel, cheese. Supplementing may be required (get tested annually).

7. Probiotics;

There is recent research suggesting a link between the gut microbiome and depression. Eating probiotic and prebiotic food such as onions, garlic, yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut can support a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Foods to reduce;

It has been established that a diet rich in fast-food, such as pizza, hamburgers, and donuts, has been connected to depression. These food are highly processed and high in simple sugars, which depressed individuals tend to consume more of.

There is also research implicating lack of physical activity, sun exposure and sleep as increasing risk of depression.

Mental health is very individual and there is not a once size fits all approach. If you are currently struggling, please reach out to a family, friend or your primary GP.