Nutrition and Mental Health


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Can a poor diet affect my mental health?

You probably know that the food you eat affects your body. Cutting back on junk food and choosing healthier options helps you maintain a healthy heart, strong muscles, and an appropriate weight. Your mood may also be affected by what you eat. 

Medical researchers are studying the effects of dietary choices on mood and mental health. This is sometimes called the “food-mood connection.” There are many questions that haven’t been answered yet. For example, are people who are not getting enough vitamins or other nutrients more likely to feel depressed? What foods make a difference in a person’s mood?

 

Mental illness is serious. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening. If you are struggling with mental health issues, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment and support.

What dietary choices support good mental health?

Studies about the “food-mood connection” have been limited and have shown mixed results. Limited evidence suggests that certain nutrients in food may support emotional well-being. These include nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12, which are found in foods that are part of a healthy diet. The Mediterranean Diet is a good plan for eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains. It also limits high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

Some studies have found that people who do not have a healthy diet are more likely to report symptoms of depression. However, because so many questions haven’t been answered yet, dietary changes are not recommended as a substitute for professional treatment of depression and other mental health issues.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Created: 09/16

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