A large body of evidence suggests that nutrition is as important to mental health as it is to physical health.
If there’s one lesson I’ve relearned during the last few months it’s this: what I eat makes a difference in how I feel. The role that nutrition plays in your mental health has been confirmed in numerous studies. Of course, diet and nutrition are not the sole triggers for mental illness. Nor are they the defining reason for subsiding symptoms.
That said, optimizing your nutrition is a great way to help make sure you’re sending your mental health up for success. While I could write a novel on the subject of mental health and diet, I promise I won’t. Instead, I want to focus this article on two challenges my clients report: depression and anxiety.
Here’s four easy to implement considerations for nutrition that can help depression and anxiety.
One – Drink Less Caffeine
You know I Iove my first cup of coffee. Yet, I typically have only that one cup. That’s because while a cup of coffee or an energy drink might seem like a helpful energy boost, but it can have a detrimental effect on your mental health if you suffer from anxiety.
Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that can change the mind’s mood or perception. It causes nervousness, tension, and jitteriness. Adding caffeinated products to an already elevated anxiety level is never a good idea.
Many of the side-effects displayed from the use of caffeine are the same as those experienced at the beginning of a depressive episode, or during the onset of a panic attack.
Two – Avoid Refined Sugar
Sugar is found in almost everything we eat or drink. There is technically no nutritional value in sugar, and research has indicated that children whose mother’s intake higher amounts of sugar while pregnant, are more likely to have emotional problems in childhood.
In adults, the risk of depression is greatly increased with diets that include heightened amounts of sugar. The crash from a sugar rush causes mood changes, difficulty focusing, and heavy fatigue.
Everyone knows that tired, exhausted feeling from a sugar crash. Science even shows that it makes decision making harder.
Three – Incorporate Omega 3 Fatty Acids into Your Diet
The initial spark of interest in Omega 3 fatty acids began with the knowledge that depression was much more infrequent in areas of the world where diets are higher in these fatty acids.
Omega 3 acids are crucial for proper brain function. They interact with your mood and alleviate inflammation, which are both helpful in warding off depression. Diets that are rich in Omega 3 can reduce the possibility of depression by as much as 30%.