The Link between Diet and Mental Well-Being

Discover how eating nutrient-rich foods can help reduce symptoms of depression anxiety & general mood while traditional diets such as Mediterranean or Japanese diets have been linked to lower risk of depression.

The Link between Diet and Mental Well-Being

When you consume a diet full of nutrient-dense foods, you are setting yourself up for fewer mood swings and improved concentration. Studies have even found that clean diets, which are mainly composed of whole and unprocessed foods, can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to the American Dietetic Association, people tend to either eat too much or too little when they are feeling stressed or depressed. If you eat too much, you will experience sluggishness and weight gain.

If you eat too little, the resulting exhaustion makes it difficult to break the habit. In either case, a poor diet during periods of stress and depression only makes things worse. This cycle can be broken, however. For instance, three studies found that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with less worry, less tension, and greater satisfaction with life, while a literature review linked higher diet quality with better mood (33, 34, 3).

A diet that includes prebiotics and probiotics helps maintain a balanced state of homeostasis (stability) in the intestine. There are several diets that have been linked to improved mental health. These include the Mediterranean diet for depression, a nutrient-rich diet for mood, and a diet low in sugar, caffeine and alcohol for anxiety. There is some evidence that certain dietary patterns may help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and general mood.

The best way to support mental health through diet is to eat a variety of nutritious foods that are rich in prebiotics and probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fiber. A study found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and low in red and processed meats was associated with a 10% reduction in the chances of experiencing depressive symptoms (1). The intestine is home to trillions of living microbes that have many functions in the body such as synthesizing neurotransmitters that send chemical messages to the brain to regulate sleep, pain, appetite, mood and emotions. When some people quit smoking they can't believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally - and how much worse they feel when they reintroduce foods that are known to increase inflammation.

Depression is a common mental health condition that is sometimes treated with dietary changes and supplement regimens. Try to stick to a clean diet for two to three weeks which means eliminating all processed foods and sugar. Studies have compared traditional diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet with a typical Western diet and have shown that the risk of depression is between 25% and 35% lower in those who follow a traditional diet. These diets also lack processed and refined foods as well as sugars which are basic elements of the Western dietary pattern.

While the gut can influence the emotional behavior of the brain, the brain can also alter the type of bacteria that lives in the gut. As you read these tips remember that the overall quality of your diet is more important than any decision you make in a day. While researchers are still exploring the relationships between food and mental health there are several studies that support the consumption of a high-quality nutrient-rich diet to improve mood (31 3). In conclusion it's clear that there is an undeniable relationship between diet and emotional wellness.

Eating nutrient-rich foods can help reduce symptoms of depression anxiety and general mood while traditional diets such as the Mediterranean or Japanese diets have been linked to lower risk of depression. Additionally quitting smoking can lead to improved physical and emotional wellbeing while avoiding processed foods sugars caffeine alcohol can help maintain balanced mental health.