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2017

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Good Food, Good Mood

Good physical health improves mental health, but a healthy, balanced diet can directly influence mental health as well. It helps with general short-term and long-term mental wellness such as improved sleep, balanced mood and emotions, and decrease risk for depression. Nutrition also affects specific mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease.

A balanced mood and overall feelings of wellbeing is partially maintained by ensuring your diet provides enough complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water. By eating a wide variety of foods (lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy products), you are bound to obtain the nutrients needed to support a healthy body and mind. 

Nutrition of mental health: an infographic on how healthy eating improves mental health
Click to see an infographic on Mental Health and Nutrition

The following are common imbalances linked to nutrition associated with worsening mood and decreased energy/motivation:

B Vitamins (Folate, B6, B12)

  • Essential for production of chemicals that affect mood
  • Help you to thinking faster, feeling better, and have more energy
  • Studies demonstrate that insufficient amount of B6 and B12 vitamins correlate to higher prevalence of depression

Water

  • The most important nutrient in our diets.
  • Drinking habits such as not getting enough water, excessive alcohol use, and too many sugary drinks a day can affect many bodily functions, including mood.

Sugar

  • High sugar food intake eventually leads to low blood sugar causing low energy and irritability.
  • Has been associated with aggressive behaviors, anxiety, hyperactivity, ADD, depression, eating disorders, fatigue, and learning difficulties.

Vitamin D

  • Sunlight is a major source of Vitamin D.
  • Helps prevent depression and anxiety
  • Critical for optimal brain functioning, including mood and critical thinking.
  • Lack of Vitamin D from sunlight in the winter can contribute to seasonal depression

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Essential fats found mainly in fish, come in two types: DHA and EPA
  • Many studies have demonstrated that lower levels of Omega 3s (DHA and EPA) are linked to higher rates of depression and heart disease

A vitamin supplement should not be used to replace medication and/or mental health counseling, but to complement it. Many times if you are eating well balanced meals, you should be getting enough vitamins and nutrients; talk to your doctor if you are concerned about insufficiencies in your diet.

Balanced Nutrition Plate, link to MyPlate.gov
Read more about what a healthy, balanced meal looks like

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