World Mental Health Day: 5 foods you must add to your diet to keep risk of mood disorders at bay   |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- World Mental Health Day is celebrated on the 10th of October
- Food can play a major role in our health, both mental and physical health
- Know the link between food and mental health, and which foods you should consume to keep your risk of mood disorders at bay
New Delhi: Fortunately, mental health has now become a more common topic that people talk about often, and do not shy away from. Many more people have now started to understand mental health, and mental health issues, to conclude that they are more than just overthinking or temporary sadness. This has become even more important now, as certain mental health disorders, namely depression and anxiety are so common. With such problems already so widespread, the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns have only added fuel to the fire and made the condition worse due to uncertainty, social isolation, and disconnect from normal life.
World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October, every year. This day aims to raise awareness around mental health issues and reduce the stigma around it. While trying to treat mental health issues with lifestyle and diet changes alone may not be the right way to go, there is no denying the fact that the food we eat can have a direct impact on our mood, and can thereby reduce the risk of mood disorders, and also accelerate the treatment process.
How food affects how you feel
Food has quite a direct link with your mind, and how you feel. Certain foods increase the production of hormones that boost your mood. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter helps in the regulation of sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since 95 per cent of the serotonin in your body is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, it implies that the cells in your GI do not just perform the function of digestion of food, but also guide your emotions. The production of serotonin is also affected by the presence or absence of the good bacteria in your gut. Not only do they help the body absorb the nutrients, but also act as a link between the gut, and the brain.
Various studies, conducted over time have compared diets that are considered healthy such as the Mediterranean diet, or the traditional Japanese diet, with western diets that seem to be the root cause for obesity. It was found that the risk of depression is 25-35 per cent lower in people who followed the traditional diets. Researches believe that the difference could be because of the contents of such diets, and what they restrict in terms of food.
Studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the “Western” dietary pattern. In addition, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented, and therefore act as natural probiotics.
5 foods you must add to your diet to reduce the risk of mood disorders
- Vegetables and fruits – Vegetables and fruits consist of fibre, and various nutrients and minerals. Fruits also contain natural sugar, which can help you make feel better instantly. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially raw can boost mental health.
- Whole grains – Carbohydrates are said to have a positive effect on the production of serotonin in the body. Whole grains are not only rich in carbs but are also high in fibre and other nutrients, which makes them an excellent addition to your diet for better mental health.
- Lean Meats – Lean meats are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that boost brain health. Lean meats are also rich in protein, which are the building blocks of life. However, lean meats should be consumed only in moderation.
- Fish – Fatty fish such as tuna and salmon are rich in healthy fats that are known for the benefits they have for the brain. You must include fatty fish in your diet for a healthy heart, and a healthy mind.
- Nuts and seeds- Nuts and seeds are a great source of nutrition for the body. They are also rich in healthy fats and vitamins. Nuts and seeds are great for snacking, as they fill you up with little quantities, and also provide good nutrition for the body and the mind.
At the same time, consumption of junk, processed food is not recommended for better mental health. While it may make you feel good in the short term, it has a negative impact on your overall health as well as your mind. Naturally-sourced food is also often fermented, which helps boost gut health, and thereby, mental health.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.