I’m a snacker. If I’m feeling blue, I’ll hoover up anything edible to fill the bottomless hole inside. Other times, I snack out of boredom. What I didn’t know is that my eating habits could playing a part in my mental health. Recently, I read an article Holland & Barrett’s Oct/Nov Healthy magazine which claimed ‘people who eat healthy have a lower risk of depression.’ For years we were told ‘you are what you eat.’ However, the statement was made in relation to weight management. Naturally, I had to dig a bit deeper because the reports intrigued me. As it turns out, there’s more to it. Basically, from a Nutritional Psychiatry standpoint an optimized nutritional diet could improve our mental health.
Nutritional Psychiatry focuses on the use of food and supplements to provide essential nutrients as part of an integrated or alternative treatment for mental health disorders. It’s believed having regular meals does not equate to healthy to be nourished. Therefore, the emphasis is on having a highly nutritious diet which supported by supplements is recommended.
When you are smiling…
They say when smile and the world will smile with you. Perhaps it’s the positive vibe that radiates and makes others feel happy and positive as well. I’m not talking about the practised smile that says ‘I’m fine’ because we don’t’ want to talk about it. Research has shown talking doesn’t always make it better.
In 2017, the SMILEs Trial (Supporting the Modification of lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) showed that being sociable and talking was not enough help manage depression and anxiety. For the trial candidates were randomly spilt into two groups: The Social Group and the Diet Group. The ‘Diet Group’ met with Accredited Practicing Dietitian for dietary education, support and nutritional counselling). They were then encouraged to follow ‘a Modified Mediterranean Diet, which were constructed using existing dietary guidelines from Greece and Australia.’ After a few months the findings showed a ‘greater reduction in depressive symptoms over the three-month period, compared to those in the social support group.’
No small matter
Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are vital to body’s functioning. Dr. Julia Rucklige, Professor of Clinical Psychology at University of Canterbury has been researching impact of nutrients on mental health. She gave a TedTalk on nutrition and mental health. During her talk she revealed that her research suggests that optimized nutrition is the way treat mental illness. Albeit, a higher (though non-toxic) than normal level of micro nutrient supplements would be required. We’re talking about supplements such as zinc, magnesium, omega 3, and vitamins B and D3. From a layperson’s point of view it makes sense. Those are the nutrients for brain function and by extension our moods.
Seems to me, if we are concerned about the side effects of psychiatric medication (i.e. antidepressants), a healthy Mediterranean diet could be a long term solution.
Listen, I know it’s easier said than done. Speaking for myself, sometimes I falter. However, when I have naughty snacks the good feeling is short lived. The colours and textures of fresh fruit and veg is what makes me smile. The good vibes last longer. As I write, I’m thinking I need to change the way I food shop.
In terms of supplements, I’ve been on omega for my brain and bones, as well as, female specific supplements for menopause. In the morning, I have either warm water with lemon or diluted apple cider. They are both help support gut health which by the way is also linked to our moods.
Managing anxiety and depression requires a lifestyle alteration. There are no quick fixes. I know what now.
If this blog resonates with you feel free to comment below. You can also share tips what work you. I would really appreciate some salad and snack inspo. On insta I’ll share my creations as time goes by.
Images from Pexel.com