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The Link Between Food and Mental Health

A recent report on the prevalence of depression in the UK showed that 21% of adults experienced some form of depression back in 2021. 34% of adults aged 16 to 29 years were most likely to experience some form of depression, while 10% of people aged 70 years and over were likely to suffer depression. But even if statistics indicate that older people are less prone to depression, it doesn’t mean they don't need mental health support. Our article on ‘What Seniors Need to Know About Medicare and Mental Health’ shared that many people have the misconception that depression is a normal part of the ageing process. But this kind of mindset sadly trivialises the struggles that older people experience. If the symptoms of depression become alarming, it’s better to seek the help of mental health professionals using government-subsidised healthcare services. In addition to medical help, having a healthier lifestyle with better nutrition can also mitigate the effects of mental health disorders.

How is Food and Mental Health Related?

According to a health article written by Kira Newman, adopting a healthier diet can lead to reduced symptoms of depression. In a study on dietary interventions in the treatment of adults with moderate to severe depression, data showed that the more people follow a healthy diet, the more their depression is lifted. Moreover, respondents claimed that they were about four times more likely to experience a remission from their depression after following a diet plan, like Mediterranean-style diets.

There are various possible explanations for how nutrition can affect the brain. For instance, Newman said that gut bacteria and the brain are linked to one another. If the gut bacteria is healthy due to the food that individuals eat, it will lead to a healthier or happier brain. Another compelling explanation is presented by Camille Lassale and colleagues, who claimed that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods are responsible for reducing one’s risk of depression. Because Mediterranean-style diets tend to be high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthful fats, which are foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, individuals are less vulnerable or more protected against symptoms of depression.

One thing’s for sure about this field of research is that a healthy and balanced diet not only helps individuals to become physically strong but also promotes better mental health.

How to Nourish Both Physical and Mental Health?

* Practice Mindful Eating Practising mindful eating means paying attention to how you feel when you eat and what you eat during these times. This is because some people may not notice how they tend to overeat or undereat when they're feeling down, resulting in unhealthy eating habits. So if you find that you overeat when stressed, it may be helpful to stop what you’re doing and write down your feelings since it will help deviate your attention from the urge to eat.

* Veer Away From Fad Diets Although fad diets can help you lose weight, they are unhealthy weight loss practices because they promote eating less food. WeightWatchers outline how a weight loss plan should focus on having a healthy balanced diet because this ensures that your mind and body receive the daily nutrients it needs to function accordingly. So if you’re planning to lose weight, it’s better to have a personalised diet plan that restricts your calorie intake without compromising the number of nutrients you can get from the food you eat. A personalised dietary plan also makes it easier to achieve your weight-loss goals because it considers your food preferences and lifestyle, keeping you happier and more satisfied.

* Sharing meals with other people One of the simplest ways to nourish your mind and body simultaneously is by eating with other people. Sue Quinn explained that social eating helps improve one’s well-being and mental health. They said that those who eat socially more often feel happier and more satisfied with life. It doesn't have to be eating outside with friends and family. Simply eating homemade meals at home with your family or visiting friends’ houses allows you to eat properly while also taking care of your mental health. Check out the Blog for more mental health-related articles.

Article written by Reanne Jamison

Exclusively for Sophie Wild Robin

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