Mental HealthHow Does Nutrition Affect Your Mental Health?

Ginger Abbot Ginger Abbot4 weeks ago8 min

People like to exercise and spend time with friends to improve their mental health, but they rarely reflect on their diet. What you eat directly connects to your emotional well-being even if you don’t have a food-related condition like an eating disorder. Learn how nutrition affects your mental health and control symptoms related to depression, anxiety and more.

1. Fiber Balances Blood Sugar

Fiber provides the first link between mental health and nutrition. You need foods high in fiber to regulate your digestive system, but it also balances your blood sugar. When your blood sugar swings between being too low and too high, you could experience mood swing symptoms like:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Concentration issues

Add natural sources of fiber to your diet like legumes, vegetables and whole grains. Stable blood sugar allows your body to be at peace and better balance your mental health.

2. MSG Worsens Depression

Many salty foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) because it’s a flavor enhancer. Canned soups, frozen meals and fast food are just a few examples of common foods that use MSG as an ingredient. Does food affect your mental health? It likely does if your diet consists primarily of foods with MSG.

Research shows that MSG causes metabolic and neurotransmitter disturbance, resulting in intensified depression symptoms. Cutting back on or eliminating MSG from your diet could make your feelings more manageable without requiring medication.

3. Antioxidants Reduce Inflammation

You’ve seen labels advertise drinks and snacks with antioxidants in them, but what do they do for your body? They protect your cells from oxidative damage that causes inflammation and cellular malfunction. Inflammation and mental health could become your top concern if you struggle routinely with depression or anxiety.

Lobster is one of the best foods for mental health if you think you don’t get enough antioxidants in your diet. It contains natural antioxidants like selenium and zinc, along with vitamins. It’s easy to prepare in many different ways, such as salads and tacos.

4. Minerals Improve Gut Bacteria

Your gut provides another link between mental health and nutrition. Digestive processes wouldn’t work without healthy bacteria living and replicating inside your large intestine. When you don’t have enough bacteria in your gut, it affects your central nervous system and intensifies anxiety.

You’ll find all-natural sources of these essential bacteria in fermented foods. Start adding yogurt, kombucha and kefir to your diet. If you can’t feel a difference within a few weeks, consider adding a probiotic pill to your daily routine if your doctor approves.

5. Folate Increases Dopamine Production

Whenever you wonder if food affects your mental health, reflect on the state of your depression after increasing your folate intake. Folate is also known as vitamin B, and it increases dopamine production for depressed individuals whose brains can’t produce enough to improve their mood on their own. Eat more eggs, legumes and leafy greens to start getting more folate from your diet.

6. Water-Based Veggies Boost Hydration

You may not always be close to a glass of water, but you can pack your lunch with water-based veggies to hydrate your body. A recent study found that people who got more water during the day had better overall cognitive performance than dehydrated participants. Vegetables are already some of the best foods for mental health because they have so many vitamins and minerals. Water-based foods like cucumbers and lettuce will also help your mental health by improving your water intake.

Learn How Nutrition Affects Your Mental Health

Once you know how nutrition affects mental health, you’ll feel empowered to make healthy changes and feel more like yourself. You’ll eliminate depressive episodes and intense symptoms by strategically picking food that decreases inflammation, provides essential vitamins and promotes bodily functions through organic minerals.

This post has been sponsored by Grid Media Services, LLC

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Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot has been featured on publications like The National Alliance for Mental Illness, Today’s Learner, Motherly and HerCampus, among others. Read more of her work for students and professionals on Classrooms.com, where she serves as Editor-in-Chief

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