The Importance of Good Nutrition for Mental and Physical Health

Eating right and getting good nutrition is essential for physical and mental health. Good food plays a vital role in restoring your health and improving your mood. Maintaining a healthy diet, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, and participating in outdoor activities in an oxygen-rich environment are all great ways to improve your overall wellbeing.

How Food Affects the Brain

When your body is not fed with good nutrition, it becomes physically and emotionally sick. Diets that are high in refined sugars can be harmful to the brain and promote inflammation and oxidative stress. It can impair the brain and how it functions and worsen symptoms of depression.

Depression is a mental health disorder associated with extreme sadness and anxiety, loss of appetite, depressed mood, disruptive sleep patterns, and a loss of interest in daily activities. If there is no timely therapeutic intervention, it can lead to a variety of consequences. 

If your brain does not get good-quality nutrition, consequences are to be expected. For many years, the medical field did not fully acknowledge the connection between mood, behavior, and food. According to Eva Selhub, MD, “The burgeoning field of nutritional psychiatry is finding there are many consequences and correlations between not only what you eat, how you feel, and how you ultimately behave, but also the kinds of bacteria that live in your gut.

When a person is already struggling with a mental health disorder, their nutrition may not be adequate. They can make poor food choices and select foods that actually contribute to their symptoms of depression. Certain foods are particularly rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, which support brain health. Introducing these types of foods into your diet can improve your brain’s health, leading to better mental health function.

Some foods that promote brain health include:

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach

  • Fatty fish, which have a significant source of fatty acids

  • Berries, such as blueberries and strawberries can delay memory decline

  • Caffeinated tea and coffee can help the brain solidify new memories

Types of Food That Promote Mental Health

According to a 2017 study on dietary patterns and depression, “A dietary pattern characterized by high intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression.” Diets consisting of red or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes, high-fat gravy, and inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders.

How Nutrition Affects Physical Health

An unhealthy diet can lead to many serious physical health complications, including obesity, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Heart disease is a combination of diseases that cause cardiovascular problems and is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding tobacco use can prevent 80% of premature heart disease, 80% of type 2 diabetes cases, and 40% of cancers.

Obesity is a severe health condition that puts a person at risk of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol and is linked to some types of cancer. Exercise and a healthy diet are proven to reduce the risk of obesity and strengthen muscle mass and bones. Eating healthy and staying active can also improve memory, enhance energy throughout the day, give a sense of calmness, and boost the immune system.  

Beginning each day with a healthy breakfast helps your body to feel rejuvenated, energized, and can provide an overall sense of wellbeing. Good nutrition can also reduce sleep problems and strengthen self-esteem, confidence, and productivity. 

Treating Mental Health With Healthy Eating

The gastrointestinal tract works closely with the brain and can also contribute to mood and mental health. Some people feel intestinal pain or “butterflies” during times of stress. Psychology works with physical factors that cause discomfort and other intestinal problems.

During life, psychosocial factors, such as stressful life events and psychological distress, can influence digestive function and the physiology of the gut and symptoms. This means stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders can affect the gastrointestinal tract’s movement and contractions. (World Journal of Gastroenterology, NIH)

At SokyaHealth, our team recognizes the importance of a healthy diet and good nutrition for the well-being of the body and the mind. Our integrative approach for eating nutritional food and mental health is based on numerous scientific studies and can bring significant positive results.

Good nutrition and a healthy diet are essential for promoting brain health, improved gastroenterological function, and physical and mental health. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity can significantly affect physical and psychological health and put you at high risk of developing a life-threatening illness. At SokyaHealth we offer individualized support to help you cope with the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. We recognize the importance of a healthy diet for the well-being of the body and mind. Our integrative approach to eating nutritional foods and mental health can help you live the life you deserve. With a personalized plan tailored to your needs, you can achieve total wellness that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. We offer same-day appointments in person, as well as telemedicine appointments. We also provide comprehensive and compassionate mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. For more information on how healthy eating can help you combat mental health disorders, call SokyaHealth today at 866-932-1767.

More than 50% of Americans struggle with mental health.

Headlight is now collaborating with health plans and companies to make therapy more accessible and affordable. Speak to a Care Coordinator today.