The role of nutrition in helping people with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression is gathering more and more support in treatments.
UK researcher Joyce Cavave recently wrote that psychiatrists are becoming more aware of the benefits of nutrition in mental health call and are calling for wider support and research.
Although people in the UK, as well as most developed countries, eat a greater variety of foodstuffs than before – but it doesn’t mean they are well-nourished. People are missing out on essential nutrients for good brain health because diets are too often dominated by heavily processed foods containing artificial additives and sugar.
Here in Australia, a study at Sydney’s School of Public Health looked at psychological distress in middle-aged and older adults and how increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may help them reduce psychological distress.
With the understanding that mental health and physical health are connected and the importance of brain function, improving diet can be a useful addition for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Another factor with diet and mental health is the importance of gut health. Research also indicates that antidepressants and other psychiatric medications, while beneficial in treating something like depression, can affect the composition of gut bacteria. What happens is an interaction with the nervous system, which can influence the likelihood of depression. Improving diet while taking these medications is a way of helping your body deal with the condition.
So thinking about diet as part of treating mental health issues. Trying foods that promote gut health like whole grains while cutting back on red meat may be helpful. Choosing fewer processed foods and eating vegetables at each meal may also be a natural way of reducing depression and anxiety.
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