While we often think of our diets in terms of weight and physical health, research has shown that what we eat can also have a significant impact on our mental health.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry found that among a group of 45,000 participants, those who ate a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats had a lower risk of depression than those who ate a more typical Western-style diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, and saturated fats.
Similarly, research has found that deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as B vitamins, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids, can lead to an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders. In fact, a review published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids had a modest but significant positive effect on reducing symptoms of depression.
In addition to the types of foods we eat, our overall eating patterns can also play a role in mental health. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who reported high levels of “emotional eating” – that is, eating in response to negative emotions – had a significantly increased risk of developing depression over a nine-year period.
While more research is needed to fully understand the link between diet and mental health, there is growing evidence to suggest that what we eat can have a significant impact on our wellbeing. Focusing on a balanced diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods and limiting intake of processed foods and refined sugars may not only benefit physical health but also support mental wellness.
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