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Nutrition and Mental Health and Wellness Food and Mood

Many of us are well aware of the benefits that eating a balanced diet has on our physical health, but do you know how it benefits our mental health? More and more research is coming to light on the impact food has on both our overall mental wellness, as well as specific mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

Here we’ll take a closer look at how food and mood are related, what role our gut health has and how a nutrition professional can support you.

Food and mood - what’s the link

Eating a diet that is well-rounded and nutrient-rich can help to improve mood, increase energy levels and help you think clearer. There are several elements at play here, from the amount of carbohydrate you eat to the way deficiencies in vitamins and minerals affect mental health. Let’s start by looking at the importance of carbohydrates.

  • wholegrains

  • fruits

  • vegetables

  • legumes

  • lower-fat dairy

When your blood glucose rises and falls rapidly, it can have an impact on mood, making you feel irritable, low and even triggering symptoms of anxiety. Keeping your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day is key. Try foods that release energy slowly like oats, cereals, nuts and seeds, and aim to eat smaller portions spaced out throughout the day.

Proteins and fats

Some people may be under the impression that all fat is bad for us, but this isn’t the case. Fatty acids, like omega-3 and omega-6, are essential for our brains to function well. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, seeds, oily fish, poultry, avocados, dairy products and eggs.

Alongside the energy it gets from carbohydrates, your brain needs amino acids to help regulate thoughts and feelings. As protein contains amino acids, it’s important to get enough of this in your diet. Protein is found in lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, cheese, soy products and legumes.

Carbohydrates and eating regularly

For your brain to be able to concentrate and focus, it needs energy (20% of all energy needed by the body is used by the brain). This energy comes from blood glucose, and the glucose in our blood comes from the carbohydrates we eat.

When we don’t have enough energy for the brain, we can feel weak, tired and unable to think clearly. Ensuring you eat regular meals containing some carbohydrates will help with this. Alongside starchy foods like pasta and rice, sources of carbohydrates include:

Vitamins and minerals

When we don’t get enough of certain vitamins and minerals, both our physical and mental health can suffer. The best way to ensure you’re getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need is to eat a varied and balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables. For some, a supplement may be needed, but be sure to check this with your doctor or a nutrition professional.

Here are some examples from the British Dietetic Association of how different vitamin/mineral deficiencies can affect your mood.

Iron: A lack of iron can lead you to feel weak, tired and lethargic. Foods rich in iron include red meat, poultry, fish, beans and pulses and fortified cereals.

B vitamins: Not getting enough B1, B3 and B12 can make you feel low, tired and irritable. Animal protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy, and fortified cereals are rich in B vitamins.

Folate: When you don’t get enough folate you can be at a higher risk of feeling depressed. Folate can be found in green vegetables, citrus fruits, liver, beans and fortified foods like marmite.

Selenium: A selenium deficiency may increase the chance of feeling depressed and other negative mood states. Good sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, seeds, wholemeal bread, meat and fish.

Mental health and wellness require a holistic approach. Eating a balanced diet that contains the nutrients your brain and gut needs can complement other therapies and approaches you’re using to manage mental health.

Hypnotherapy can help you lose the weight and keep it off by re-programming your mental attitudes to weight loss. When you change the way you think, you will find it possible and comfortable to reach your desired weight. We use CTB with the integration of hypnotherapy. The aim of hypnosis for weight loss is to help you feel confident about your body, change negative thoughts about eating and help you lose weight responsibly. By targeting the unconscious mind with powerful suggestion techniques helping develop a positive relationship with food, which is key to healthy weight loss and long-term weight management.

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