This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (11th – 17th May) an initiative set-up by the Mental Health Foundation in a bid to raise awareness of mental health and create debate around this subject.
The Mental Health Awareness Foundation started their first Mental Health Awareness Week back in 2000, and over the years have explored topics such as loneliness, anger, fear, exercise, alcohol, friendship and the public sphere. This year, their key area of discussion is ‘mindfulness’.
At Love You Gut we thought we would explore the links between nutrition and mental health.
In 2014 a systematic review confirmed a relationship between poor mental health in children and adolescents and ‘unhealthy’ dietary patterns. Researchers have linked a number of different mental health disorders with diet, including depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.
The health of the gut has also been linked to mental health, with studies linking constipation to numerous psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
- Our mood can very much affect the way in which we consume food, with some people turning to food for comfort, while others go off it – both excessive weight gain and loss can affect mood.
- Missing meals and inappropriate food choices can lead to dips in blood sugar levels and lead to low mood, irritability and fatigue.
- The types of food we consume can affect our mood, with food groups such as protein and complex carbohydrates playing a vital role in mood control. Furthermore, fish, a great source of protein, is high in omega-3 fats, an important fat for brain health.
- Increasing variety in your diet, with higher consumption of fruit and vegetables can also help.
- Ensuring we consume enough water is essential. Early side-effects of dehydration can include low mood.
- Other factors such as alcohol and exercise can also play a significant role in our mood.
The Mental Health Foundation have a great page on their website, exploring the links between nutrition and mental health. For further information and to order a supporter pack as well as logos and posters visit: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/