Nutrition and mental health are always interconnected. Food that you eat always affects your body. Many studies have shown the connection between your food choices and your overall health. Eating a nutritious diet helps you keep healthy body weight and a healthy heart. It also helps reduce your risk of developing some chronic diseases. New research finds that your food choices may also affect your mood and mental health. This is sometimes called the “food-mood connection.” Factors such as poorer physical health, and living in poverty, or deprived communities, have been found to be associated with poorer mental health and wellbeing.
Malnutrition can Cause Weight Gain
The importance of good nutritional intake at an early age is explored in multiple studies, including a systematic review found that a poor diet (with high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and processed food products) is linked to poorer mental health in children and adolescents. Also, it ends up with extra fatty layers which results in instant weight gain.
However, there is a range of inequalities that can contribute to the development of mental health problems, and how these factors interact with each other to affect mental health can be complex. Factors such as poorer physical health, and living in poverty, or deprived communities, have been found to be associated with poorer mental health and wellbeing. Both of these inequality factors have also been shown to have a complex relationship with poor nutrition.
Experience of a mental health problem may also be associated with poorer diet and physical health. There have been efforts to close the ‘mortality gap’ for people with severe mental health problems, who on average tend to die 10 to 25 years earlier than the general population. A number of factors may contribute to this premature mortality, including dietary and nutritional factors, among other things.
Poor nutrition can lead to physical health problems such as obesity, though there are a number of demographic variables that could affect the direction and/or strength of the association with mental health including the severity of obesity, socioeconomic status, and level of education, gender, age, and ethnicity.
The relationship between obesity and mental health problems is complex. Results from a systematic review found two-way associations between depression and obesity, finding that people who were obese had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time, whereas people experiencing depression had a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. The Mediterranean Diet is also considered a beneficial diet for overall health and brain health. It focuses on eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains. It also limits high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
Things to Consider
Mental illness is serious. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening. If you are struggling with mental health issues, talk to your family doctor. They can help you find the right type of treatment and support. While a healthy diet can help you in recovery from depression and anxiety, it should sit alongside other treatments recommended by your doctor. The right diet is necessary for the betterment of mental health.