Managing mental health in today’s stressful times can be tough. That’s why anything that can help is worth further investigation. We’re going to take a look at whether what you eat whether it’s aor a chicken kebab can have an impact on mental well-being.
Fat and the brain
The ‘dry weight’ of the brain is composed of around 60% fat. As a result, what we eat can have a direct impact on how the brain is structured. Those who constantly eat saturated fats – like lard – will usually have harder and less flexible brain cell membranes. In turn, those who ensure their diet contains things such as olive oil and fats from fish and nuts will usually have more mental flexibility.
What’s more, 20% of the fat in the brain comes from two essential fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6. Though both are essential, neither is manufactured naturally by the body, and must be gleaned through food. Essentially, then, it is a fact that in order for our brain to be at its most healthy, we must eat and drink the right things. There’s more info on omega acids.
How does this relate to mood and mental health?
Just like every other organ in the body, the brain reacts specifically to what we eat, and requires the right balance of carbs, fatty acids, vitamins and water. Just as your muscles will feel tired if you don’t ingest enough protein, so your brain will feel fatigued without the right level of nutrients, and may not work to its full capacity.
The key to good mental health is the sufficient balance of neurotransmitters. NTs impact feelings of both anxiety and contentment, as well as memory and cognitive function.
Some food and drink can actually have an immediate impact on neurotransmitters, in some cases ‘faking’ higher levels of performance. However, over time, these cause the brain to ‘down-regulate’. This means that the brain’s receptors shut down until the excess activity is used up. To use a real-life example, this is like downing a can of a typical energy drink: there’s an initial high, but it’s soon replaced with a definite low.
Different foods impact different mental health problems
Depression – on numerous occasions, studies have shown that folic acids, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium are capable of reducing symptoms of depression. Low levels of these, as well as lower levels of zinc and vitamins B1, B2 and C have all displayed a connection with depression.
Alzheimer’s – on a number of occasions, specific connections have been found between Alzheimer’s and the intake of saturated fats, vitamins and minerals. However, as there is no cure for Alzheimer’s this is more a matter of being preventative.
ADHD – on a number of occasions, diet has been reported as having a positive impact on children with ADHD. Essential fatty acids and minerals have both been shown to cause an increase in awareness.
Mental health and diet have been firmly connected on a number of occasions. Whilst there is rarely a one-shot cure for a mental condition, those looking to reduce symptoms should definitely analyse the food that they’re eating to see if there is anything they could change in order to try and ease the situation. For more information,.