How a Balanced Diet Affects Mental Health

Everything a person puts into their body has a direct effect on how it functions so it is easy to understand that nutrition plays a huge role in many of the body’s actions. Much research has been done that shows a direct link between nutrition and mental health. Evidence indicates that food plays a big role in the management, prevention and development of specific mental health problems like attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

Research suggests that nearly two thirds of people who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, as compared to less than half of those who do report daily mental problems. To put it as simply as possible, there is a distinct link between the body and mind and when an individual feeds the body the nutrition it needs the mind will feel refueled and more balanced.

What most people eat now is far different than before. With the change in manufacturing and production techniques as well as higher access to more processed foods, the westernized diet is by far more convenience driven. These eating habits have lead the United States to become one of the most obese countries in the world. This inclusion of many additives in our food supply also leaves many Americans with nutritional deficiencies.

A study reported in Medscape Medical News conducted by investigators at the University of Melbourne examined mental health outcomes and their relation to diet changes in a group of Australian women across a wide age range. Its results found that women who consumed a more traditional diet were over 30 percent less likely to have depression and anxiety disorders whereas those who consumed a diet high in refined and processed foods showed to be 50 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University contributed to a study that was published in The Lancet: Psychiatry. He and his colleagues suggest that a balanced diet could be as important to mental health as it it to overall physical health. In an interview with the Huffington Post, he also suggested that patients focus on nutrition and what they eat as supplemental treatment for depression. Ramsey and his colleagues also acknowledged numerous studies that suggest supplementing diets with omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, D vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium for overall brain health.

Now, this is not the point where a completely organic list of groceries that focuses entirely on chicken and broccoli will be suggested. The important part is to keep one’s diet balanced and reasonable because, after all, the best diet is one people can actually stick with.

There is no reason to go to any extremes such as a no-carb, high-carb or zero fat diet. Fats, protein and carbohydrates all play an integrated role in supplying the body with the energy it needs to function. Some general dietary guidelines one can follow include:

  • Eat protein at every meal to ensure a steady supply of amino acids
  • Shoot to eat around five portions of fruits or vegetables a day
  • Eat a wide variety of foods to keep diets fresh and interesting

With that being said, good nutritional practices should not be performed as a substitute for traditional mental health treatment. If an individual is seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist, he or she should continue to do so. If the person possesses abnormal food allergies or health conditions that causes a need for a more restricted dietary protocol, this person should consult a doctor or physician before making any dramatic changes in his or her diet plan.

Depression and other physical and mental disorders that result from poor eating habits can prove detrimental to a person’s well-being. Treatment can help patients cope with mental health disorders while getting to the root of the issue.

Sovereign Health Group is among the top mental health treatment centers in the country. We can help patients learn new methods of procuring a healthier and happier lifestyle. Our new Fort Myers, Florida location offers various inpatient and outpatient programs for patients struggling with mental health disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and dual diagnosis. If you or someone you know seeking mental health treatment, please contact Sovereign Health Group of Fort Myers at 866-547-3360.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer

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