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Mental Health Day 2023: Understanding The Role Of Nutrition In Mental Health – News18

Mental Health Day 2023: Understanding The Role Of Nutrition In Mental Health – News18
  • PublishedOctober 10, 2023

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Studies have shown that a drop in blood sugar levels can cause changes in mood, increased anxiety, confusion in thinking, and decreased physical performance. (Image: Shutterstock)

Studies have shown that a drop in blood sugar levels can cause changes in mood, increased anxiety, confusion in thinking, and decreased physical performance. (Image: Shutterstock)

What we consume on a day to day basis has a rather important role to play when it comes to our mental health, here is all that you have to knoew-

Food and nutrition have a huge role to play when it comes to mental health. It is important that people understand how big a role nutrition has to play in terms of mental health and all that it entails. It is about time we acknowledged the fact that what we consume does have an impact on our mental happiness and a lot more, some of which might even be beyond our understanding.

Dr. Nishchol Raval, Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, Sahyadri Super Speciality Hospitals, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune, says, “Understanding the adage “we are what we eat” is fundamental when exploring the crucial connection between nutrition and mental health. It is increasingly evident that many health issues stem from poor nutrition. Today, deficiencies in essential nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D have become common culprits behind low moods, fatigue, depression, and an overall sense of unwellness. Similarly, protein deficiencies can manifest as body aches, muscle pains, and joint discomfort. These deficiencies are often prevalent among individuals experiencing high levels of stress, as they may neglect balanced nutrition amidst their challenges.”

Dr. Nishchol Raval also added, “The connection between gut health and mental well-being is profound. The mind and the gut are intricately linked, almost as if they communicate through an express highway. Any disturbance in one affects the other, creating a bidirectional relationship. This phenomenon is observable in everyday life: constipation or diarrhoea often coincide with mood disturbances, just as stress and anxiety can lead to gut-related issues. Therefore, enhancing your diet with increased fibre and vegetables becomes essential in nurturing the natural gut bacteria that play a significant role in mood regulation.”

Including green leafy vegetables and a balanced diet in one’s diet, along with probiotics such as almonds, dried nuts, dried fruits, and yogurt, may have a beneficial effect on the gut-brain connection. Probiotics play a crucial role in supporting the growth and thriving of beneficial gut bacteria, which results in overall better health.

Mrs. Sweedal Trinidade, Chief Dietician, P D Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, stated, “The advent of technology and modernisation has led to cultural development. The increasing pace of life and pursuit of excellence have led to overstimulation and a lack of time for self-care. Decreases in mental well-being and anxiety are by-products of civilization and are becoming a global epidemic.”

She further added, “The twenty-first century has witnessed a huge shift in eating habits, from a balanced diet and organic foods to increased consumption of high-calorie and processed foods. This has led to a rise in obesity and related complications. Studies have shown a positive correlation between mental health and healthy eating habits; similarly, selective micronutrient supplementation has shown symptomatic improvement and an antidepressant effect.”

Mrs. Sweedal Trinidade shared a couple of options that should be a part of everybody’s diet in order to keep one’s mental health going. Check it out-

  1. Fibre:It serves as a prebiotic or food for good bacteria and not only maintains the glycaemic load of meals but also aids in digestion and mental health status.Antioxidants: Antioxidants like zinc, Vitamin D3, and folic acid found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts provide plenty of antioxidants that have a scavenging effect on free radicals that cause oxidative stress and increase inflammation, thereby improving the production of neurotransmitters.
  2. Magnesium:Foods like green leafy vegetables, wheat grass juice, and pumpkin seeds rich in magnesium help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.Omega-3 fatty acids: Nuts, seeds, oily fish, and eggs rich in omega-3 fatty acids not only reduce oxidative stress but also improve mood, comprehension, and cognitive abilities.
  3. Probiotics:Yogurt, fermented foods, pickles, and ginger, to name a few foods containing probiotics, increase the live bacteria in your digestive system, improving the gut-brain connection.Although there are studies supporting the psycho-protective and psycho-preventive effects of nutrients on health, there is still scope for more evidence-based studies.

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