1. The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

    January 2, 2014

    The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

    There have been many studies that have linked mental health, and most notably depression, with the food that we eat. Researchers studied a variety of “favorites”, such as:

    • Doughnuts
    • Fairy Cakes
    • Croissants
    • Hot dogs
    • Hamburgers
    • Pizza


    Essentially, commercial baked goods and fast food have been found to have a negative impact on the mental psyche, leading to the possibility of depression. Much of this is linked to a lack of physical behavior, which leads to negative physical growth, as well as the development of poor self-esteem.

    The studies also conclude that the consumption of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and olive oil play a preventative role when it comes to depression. B vitamins, especially, play an active role toward maintaining increased energy levels and living a healthy lifestyle.

    Poor diet comes combined with unhealthy lifestyle habits (such as lounging around, watching too much television, or lacking in physical activity) leads to feeling negative.  Most people know that eating fast food and commercial bakery goods is unhealthy, yet the reason people indulge is often associated with convenience and the fact that it tastes good.  It provides comfort for many people (aka, stress eating), but it leads to a vicious cycle of feeling good (temporarily), only to be let down by guilt after the indulgence is over.

    Recognition of the real problems

    The real underlying problems associated with poor dietary choices and the subsequent low self-esteem needs to be addressed, and rather than truly address the epidemic, it is simply becoming more and more acceptable. The idea of living casual and non-eventful days is much more acceptable in today’s society; there isn’t enough pressure or consideration put toward where the problems truly begin.

    An effective way to address this problem isn’t necessarily to make a public service announcement, as people are aware of the problems. It’s about educating the youth who don’t fully have an understanding of just how serious the problem is. When one looks at the obesity epidemic (most notably recognized in America), then the proper resolve should be to put more effort into the education that schools deliver to our youth. In addition to education, there should be more action put forward in what the schools offer for meals; there should be healthier options made available rather than high-sugar and high-fat snacks that currently pollute the common school cafeteria.

    It is easy to point the finger at society and blame marketing on today’s poor diet choices, but the ability to deliver a solution to the widespread problems is an entirely separate matter. When people eat poorly and are inactive, then of course depression can become an issue. Whether it is unhappiness around the way we physically look, unhappiness because of the amount we get done in a day, or whatever the case may be, it’s easier to claim and remain stuck.  Solutions are right there, but the cloud of depression tends to keep us from utilizing them.  It might be a hard first step, but once you take that first step, each subsequent step becomes a little bit easier.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marketing-deluxe/8260087763

  2. How to Beat Depression… with Diet

    August 24, 2013

    beat depression

    Depression is a common problem though its severity and symptoms do vary. Unlike occasional sadness that we all feel from time to time, depression is a chronic issue that claims around 850,000 lives each year. There are different types of depression including:

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – A disorder that only affects people at certain times of he year, most notably around the winter months with a kind of ‘cabin fever,’ where you may find yourself feeling more sad than normal.


    Postpartum Depression – A type of depression that occurs within women that have recently given birth. This form of depression can be a result of powerful emotions that can lead to psychotic episodes.


    Bipolar Disorder – This affects 3 out of every 100 adults and can occur when the chemicals in your brain are not balanced.


    How to spot the signs of depression?


    There are ways to spot if you or a loved one are depressed, here are a few of the telltale signs:


    • Constantly feeling sad, irritable or tense
    • Lack of interest in the usual hobbies
    • A lack of energy
    • Changes in appetite, with either weight loss or gain
    • A change in sleeping patterns
    • A lack of concentration
    • Feelings of worthlessness
    • Thoughts of suicide and death


    If you experience any of these thoughts for an extended period of time then it is important that you  talk to clinical psychologist or psychotherapist, if left untreated depression gets much worse. Remember that depression is not always just a state of mind, often there are other factors too including hormone or chemical imbalances. I know that there is a social stigma surrounding depression and that it may feel easier to bottle up your feelings but this will not help in the long run.


    Could your diet help?


    Although depression is not always caused by one issue your diet can help you to take a step in the right direction. A lack of certain vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids can contribute to depression so it is important that you try to eat a healthy balanced diet, while avoiding any unnatural and processed food choices.

    Here are a few food options that could help to improve your mood:


    An omelet

    Eggs contain important B vitamins that have been shown to help lessen the severity of depression. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are particularly important as they can improve neural function, meaning your moods can be improved.

    Eggs also contain protein so can help keep you full for longer and can stabilize blood sugar levels meaning you wont experience those sugar highs and lows associated with high sugar foods.


    Nuts and seeds

    Both nuts and seeds contain magnesium that can naturally increase your production of serotonin, a chemical that helps you to feel good. They are the perfect alternative to traditional snacks as long as you stick to the unsalted and unsweetened versions.


    Cold water fish

    Cold water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids that can help increase the amount of grey matter in your brain. These fatty acids are an essential material for our brain. Those with severe depression have been noted as having less grey matter than others. Again fish is a good source of protein, so the usual benefits of protein can be experienced. It is unlikely that you can enough enough fish to get sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, you will likely need to take supplements as well. In case of depression you need supplements with high EPA-to-DHA ratio.


    Ancient grains

    Grains such as quinoa and barley are less likely to be processed and refined with sugar so will not be digested as quickly as those refined with wheat flour and sugar. This will stop any blood sugar spikes and subsequent drop that can result in fatigue, food cravings and mood swings.


    Green tea

    In most green tea varieties you will find the amino acid L-theanine that has been shown in EEG tests to stimulate alpha brain waves, which can help to improve your focus and have a calming effect on your body.


    In conclusion


    Depression is a serious condition and if you suffer from it then you should speak to a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. A healthy diet can help, but it can only supplement psychotherapy.


    Author Bio: Jac Jenkins is a stay at home Mom passionate about health and fitness. She writes about diets such as the Fasting Diet at her own blog.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstrato/418493178