When dealing with a mental health disorder, many aspects of life may need adjustment. However, one thing easily disregarded when it comes to mental health is what you eat. Proper nutrition has long been recognized as important to your health. However, proper nutrition is just as important when dealing with a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression.
The strong connection between nutrition and mental health stems from the link between brain chemicals and gut bacteria. Billions of bacteria make up the gut microbiome. Some foods and nutrients fuel the production of good gut bacteria, while others impede good bacteria levels.
Numerous brain chemicals responsible for mood, attention and memory regulation rely on good gut bacteria. For example, 95% of serotonin — a key mood-regulating brain chemical — is produced by the gastrointestinal tract. Take a closer look at the relationship between poor nutrition and mental health below.
Good Nutrition and Mental Health
A healthy diet impacts your body and mind in a number of ways, and many of these impacts support good mental health. People who eat nutrient-rich foods consistently tend to be in better mental and physical health than those who consume a lot of sugar, boxed meals and fast food. The consistent intake of important vitamins, nutrients and minerals usually means:
- Higher quality sleep
- A positive mentality and mood
- Less susceptibility to illnesses due to better immune system function
- Better cognitive function
These effects are exceptionally important for an individual working to combat the symptoms of a mental health disorder. For example, high-quality, restful sleep supports less fatigue as well as clear thought processes and cognition. This can equate to working through anxious thoughts more easily and making better decisions. Likewise, a better functioning immune system means a lower chance of getting sick.
Poor Nutrition and Mental Health
Eating good food is undeniably important, but avoiding bad food choices is just as important for your mental health. Research indicates that nutrient deficits can disrupt brain cell communication. Likewise, a poor diet can be related to higher levels of inflammation in the brain, which can be related to everything from reduced thinking skills to shorter attention span.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that poor nutrition and diet are the leading causative factors for most illnesses, diseases and disorders, including mental health disorders. Poor nutrition can have a long list of negative effects, such as:
- Low energy levels
- Sleep issues
- Problems with memory
- Tooth, nail and hair issues
- Weight gain
- Weakened immune system
- Memory and cognitive function problems
Whether you're working to recover from depression or anxiety, or even if you’re in addiction treatment, any of the negative effects of poor nutrition can disrupt your journey. For example, low energy levels and weight gain can exacerbate depression symptoms.
Find Support for Overcoming Mental Health Disorders
What you eat can be a major factor in mental health, but many other factors can be at play that need to be addressed. At Legacy Recovery Center, we develop an evidence-backed, personalized treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcomes. Reach out to find out about our treatment options for mental health disorders.