Is Your Diet Bad For Your Mental Health?



We all know that eating a healthy
balanced diet is important if you want to stay physically fit. If you eat too
much fat and sugar, you will gain weight and increase your risk of all sorts of
diseases. Vitamin deficiencies can also cause you a lot of health problems,
which is why you need to make sure that you get your 5 a day. But did you know
that your diet can also have a big impact on your mental health as well? There
has been a lot of research into the link between diet and mental health in
recent years and it’s becoming clear that if you want to maintain good mental
health, you need to watch what you eat. 




A lot of people get caught out by this
because they’re physically fairly healthy, so they don’t worry too much about
what they eat. But they don’t realise that their diet is making their mental
health issues a lot worse. If you are struggling with your mental health, it’s
important that you take a look at what you eat and make changes to your diet
where necessary. These are some of the ways that your diet may be affecting
your mental health. 



Gut Bacteria 



The bacteria in your gut is more important than we realised in the past and there
is a lot of evidence to suggest that there is a strong link between gut health
and mental health. You have good and bad bacteria in your gut and if the
balance isn’t right, it can make mental health issues more severe. But it works
the other way around as well, and people with mental health issues often have
problems with their gut. It can become a vicious cycle, with the two problems
feeding into one another, so it’s important that you
look after your gut health. Cutting back on sugar is
important for gut health as well as overall mental health (we’ll come back to
that later). You should also try to eat fermented foods like yoghurt or
sourdough bread because they help to boost the levels of good bacteria in your
gut. If you can improve your gut health, you should notice a difference to your
mental health as well. 


Caffeine 



Caffeine
is a lifeline for a lot of people and they can’t get through the day without
it, but if you struggle with your mental health, you might want to consider
cutting back. One or two cups of tea or coffee won’t cause too many problems,
but if you drink a lot of caffeine, it can cause a big increase in anxiety. If
you are
living with anxiety, it may be best to cut it out
altogether, at least for a while, and see if it makes a difference. Caffeine isn’t
the cause of your anxiety, but it can be a contributing factor so you have to
be careful with it. The other problem with caffeine is that it gives you a
short term energy boost, followed by a crash, which can affect your energy
levels. A lack of energy is one of the common symptoms of depression, and
excess caffeine intake could be making it worse, especially if you become
completely reliant on caffeine to stay awake. You don’t need to give up
caffeine completely, but you should limit your intake if you are worried about
your mental health. 


Alcohol 



People
often use alcohol as a coping mechanism to help manage their mental health
issues, but that leads to
a lot more problems in the future. If you are feeling very
anxious, having a drink may relax you and help you to take your mind off it.
But the effects will only be very short term and drinking will actually
increase feelings of anxiety or depression in the long term. So, even though
you might feel like drinking is helping, it’s actually making things a lot
worse for you overall. If you start using alcohol as a crutch on a regular
basis, you even risk developing issues with addiction. When you drink alcohol,
it’s important that you think about why you are doing it and it’s something
that you do in moderation, for fun. If it becomes something that you do to
manage your mental health issues, that’s when it becomes a big problem. You
don’t need to give up drinking, but you do need to be more mindful about it and
make sure that it’s not a coping mechanism. 










Sugar 



It’s
well known that sugar can lead to weight gain, but we don’t hear about the
mental health effects quite as much. When you eat sugar, you get a short term
sugar rush, followed by a big crash. It’s similar to when you drink a lot of
caffeine. But the crash from sugar is a lot worse and you will experience
feelings of anxiety and depression, you will get stressed very easily, and you
may feel frustrated and angry. If you eat a lot of sugar throughout the day,
you are constantly going through these ups and downs, it can take its toll on
your mental health. Sugar is also very addictive, and as we discussed before,
it has a big impact on gut health. That means that once you start eating a lot
of sugar, it’s hard to break out of it and avoid the mental health effects.
When you are trying to cut out sugar, start with the obvious things like sweets
and fizzy drinks. But you also have to watch out for the
hidden sources of sugar because it’s in so many foods.
Things like fruit juice, for example, are packed with sugar and a lot of low
fat foods compensate with more added sugar so they’re not really great for you.

  








B Vitamins 



There
are certain vitamins that have been linked to positive mental health,
especially the B vitamins. All types of B vitamins help your brain to regulate
serotonin, which is vital for good mental health. People that suffer from
mental health issues tend to have low levels of serotonin, but increasing your
intake of vitamin B will help with that. It’s always a good idea to take
vitamin supplements to help improve your overall health but particularly to
make sure that you are getting enough vitamin B in your diet. You can
order them online and if you take one every
morning, you may notice a big difference. There are plenty of foods that are
high in B vitamins as well, like beetroot, spinach, and broccoli. The only B
vitamin that you cannot get from vegetables is vitamin B12, which is only found
in meat and dairy products. If you do not eat meat and dairy, you will have to
rely on vitamin supplements to increase your intake. 












Vitamin D 


Vitamin D deficiency has been linked
to a whole host of mental health issues. Our biggest source of vitamin D is the
sun, which is why people suffer from seasonal depression during the winter. A
lack of vitamin D is very common because most of us spend all day inside when
we’re at work. It’s important that you try to get outside as much as possible
and soak up the sunlight when you can. If you are taking breaks at work, make
an effort to go for a walk outside for a while. Even if it is winter, you will
still benefit from the vitamin D. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible but
a good multivitamin can help you boost vitamin D levels. There are not many
food sources of vitamin D but some
fish, like salmon and tuna, are good. There are also a lot of foods that are
fortified with added vitamin D, especially cereal. 


If you can adjust your diet and cut
out some of the negative foods and drinks, you should notice a big difference
to your mental health. 



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So, if you suffer mental health, do you think these changes would be beneficial? Or if you change your diet, let me know in the comments if you think that it has helped?


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