According to Professor Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, our diet influences our mental health. The professor told The Sydney Morning Herald that there is extensive evidence of a link between people’s diets and their clinical depressive and anxiety disorders. Through her work as director of Deakin University’s Food and Mood Research Centre, Professor Jacka said “if you manipulate diet, it has a very direct impact on the brain”.
Foods you should eat for good mental health
Take care of your gut. The gut microbiome is important to all aspects of our health, and Professor Jacka has found that taking care of the gut biome is important for people with anxiety.
Eat fibrous foods such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds. During the digestive process these foods release short-chain fatty acids which were found to reduce the body’s stress response in animal testing.
Incorporate healthy fats such as olive oil and fish oil. It’s thought that people with anxiety should eat more fish to reap the benefits of omega 3s, which have been found to decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Polyphenols, compounds found in natural plant-based foods, have anti-inflammatory properties that are good for people with a predisposition to anxiety disorders. Eat berries, green tea, dark chocolate, red wine, soy and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
There isn’t a lot of evidence to support the effects of fermented foods on mental health yet, but professor Jack says they have short-chain fatty acids, which reduce the body’s stress response. Try things like kombucha, kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut and tempeh.
Stay away from: caffeine and alcohol, as these stimulants and depressants have negative impacts on the central nervous system in the hours after consumption.
You might also like: