A lot of focus is being put on mental health these days, and rightly so. From mass shootings to the reality that roughly 20% of individuals in the United States suffer from some sort of mental illness, it’s understandable why we are hearing more about mental illness these days.
The surge in awareness and prevalence of mental illnesses is why therapy visits and new counseling options like online therapy are on the rise. Frankly, it’s a discussion we should be having; stigmas be damned!
I won’t get into the psychology behind mental illness and everything that plays a role in it (it’s a very complex issue), but rather I will focus on another factor that plays a sizable role in mental illness: your diet and nutrition.
Ever heard of the saying: you are what you eat?
Well, it turns out this statement is true on many levels. If you put junk into your system, your body and mind will likely turn to “junk.” More and more studies show that natural foods high in micronutrients impact our mental health for the better.
Processed foods (which make up a significant portion of what most people buy these days) are showing to have a negative impact on brain and overall body function.
Moreover, let’s take a look at one of the largest mental health issues in America: depression.
There are various levels on the depression spectrum, and not everyone who is depressed is experiencing severe depression. A large percentage of individuals are only moderately or mildly depressed. According to doctors, a simple dietary change can help you overcome this.
The same likely goes for anyone experiencing any mild form of mental illness.
What You Should Be Eating
As noted above, natural foods have shown to be very good for our state of mental health. So, it’s no surprise to see fruits, vegetables, whole grains, Vitamin B, fish, and any lean meats or vegetarian protein on the list of what you should be eating.
Whole grains are particularly important because they contain fiber, and they happen to be the least processed grains.
What To Avoid
The two largest food problems in America are fast food and snacks (A.K.A. processed food). It is highly advisable to stay away from these as much as possible.
Not only will you improve your mental health, but you will reduce your risk of developing other diseases, such as cancer. You should also look to avoid sugar (and artificial-sweeteners – yes, I’m looking at you coffee lovers).
If you are a coffee lover, consider switching to black coffee or Bulletproof Coffee instead of your artificially flavored morning “coffee drink.”
Sugar affects cognitive function– think about how that is intertwined with your mental health.
Go & Implement It!
It’s important to see that there is not such a long list of foods here.
You can, and should, still enjoy life when it comes to food. No one is advocating to “only eat X.” However, there are certain foods you should try and limit, such as sugar.
Your diet should be balanced, with more of a focus on natural foods. Remember, the good news is that this is in your hands. If you’re in a mild state of bad mental health, a small and simple dietary change can make all the difference!