The Connection Between Diet and Mood – At Horizon Plymouth, we know that wellbeing and positive mental health is not just a matter of a simple mindset switch. There are so many elements that contribute to how you think and feel, and the therapists at Horizon are experts at helping individuals untangle all of the many interwoven components to create a healthier mind. One thing that is often under-appreciated for its contribution to mood is diet. What you are eating can have a great impact on how you are feeling, and, while changing your diet will not necessarily revolutionize your mood and solve a mental health crisis, tuning in to what you are eating can be an excellent complement to sessions with a trained therapist.
How does diet impact mood?
It’s no secret that a healthy diet optimizes your physical health, so it makes sense that it can help to support your mental health as well. When food is digested and broken down, it results in materials that your body uses to fuel itself and creates “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, unhealthy patterns of eating can contribute to inflammation and mood swings as a result of blood sugar spikes and imbalances in chemical composition. Recent studies have identified the association between mental health and diet by exploring the links between beneficial gut bacteria, brain plasticity, and chronic inflammation. Although the exact mechanisms behind how diet influences mood are still being researched, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the two are intricately connected to affect depression, anxiety, and the onset of other mental health conditions. Additionally, preliminary studies have been conducted that support the idea of a potential link between dietary factors, obesity, and the rate of depression. Incorporating foods that are higher in vitamin D have been shown to potentially reduce the rate of depression in women.
What foods are best?
When it comes to eating food that promotes your mental health, there is not a universal answer for exactly how or what to eat. Just as everyone’s body is different, the diet that works to best support everyone’s mental health is different, but there are certain recommendations that guide healthy eating.
In general, foods that are rich in nutrients, protein, and healthy fats are a good idea to incorporate in any diet. This includes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Additionally, focusing on creating healthy patterns of eating as well as improving the quality of your food can help to reduce mood swings and inflammation in your body. Some general guidelines for your diet that can influence your mood include:
- Don’t skip meals: Be sure to have a meal of healthy, filling, nutrient-rich foods at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Incorporate a variety of foods: The best way to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients is by being sure to eat a variety of foods. Leaving out food groups can result in nutrient insufficiency.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and processed sugars: Sugars and sweets cause blood sugar spikes, resulting in mood swings and poor mental health.
If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or just like you need to talk to someone, don’t hesitate to reach out to the expert counsellors at Horizon Plymouth. No matter how big or small your struggles are, we are here to help you heal and grow in a healthy and productive manner. Working with a therapist can help you to understand and integrate your feelings, and also to take a look at other factors that might be impacting your mental health—like diet. If you think that you could benefit from speaking with a counsellor, don’t wait! Contact Horizon Plymouth today and take the first steps to a happier, healthier you!