How important are diet and mental health in your life? Have you been finding it difficult to maintain a balance? Do you have trouble keeping up healthy eating habits? Are you suffering from chronic stress or other emotional disorders? A poor diet and mental health can have devastating effects on your physical well-being and your quality of life. Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the connection between diet and mental health and are doing what they can to improve their well-being.
Most people realize that eating a well-balanced diet is ideal for your overall physical health, but what about your brain health? New studies are finally shining light on how diet and mental health relate and the surprising connection between diet and depression. It has long been suspected that diet may affect the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Research has found that a poor diet and GI tract may be linked to depression and other mood disorders. The findings come from the study of mice that were pre-treated with depression. When the mice were fed a poor diet, a significant amount of their brains were affected.
What makes this study different from other observational studies? One factor that makes this different from other observations is the fact that the scientists closely controlled the diet of the mice and controlled for a wide variety of other factors. Another important factor is that the scientists did not randomly select participants to test for diet effects. Their study controlled for all these factors and looked at only those that were diagnosed with depression during an MRI scan.
Depression and mood disorders often begin in childhood or adolescence. Through many studies, experts have identified certain dietary patterns or ingredients that increase the likelihood that a person will develop or worsen his or her depression symptoms. In addition to poor diet and GI tract issues, children may be lacking certain nutrients such as fatty acids and other vitamins. The lack of nutrients may contribute to both diet-related and non-diet-related mood disorders and symptoms. These nutrient deficiencies are often present in the foods that children eat on a daily basis.
For some people, diet and mental health don’t seem to be related. This can be true for the most part. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with changing dietary habits in order to improve your mood or decrease depressive symptoms. As noted above, however, some people find that their dietary habits do indeed make a difference.
In the case of depression and anxiety, the treatment methods vary. For some, anti-depressant medications may work well. For others, cognitive behavioral therapy may help. In recent years, a new approach to depression has been developed: Using a form of “brain fitness” that has been called “neuroplasticity”. This approach is based on the knowledge that brain function can be changed by changes in environmental stimuli over a long-term period.