While mental health treatment and discussions are openly available in modern health studies, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. One of the things we are finding out is just how much external factors, like environment, impact mental health. Simultaneous to the rise in mental health awareness, physicians have seen a rise in concerns about nutrition and dietary wellness. So how do those two components of health impact one another? This week we explore the connection between diet and mental health. Read on to learn all about nutritional psychiatry.
The Two Are Definitely Related
Psychologists know that there are a few things that link food and mental health. Physical components of health such as gut bacteria, hormones, neuropeptides, and neurotransmitters are all impacted by food. Human brains need nutrients and all of the components of food to function.
However, trying to get specifics about how specific foods impact mental health is a very challenging process. As with a majority of mental health studies, everyone has a slightly different answer. Those widely varying answers are additionally obfuscated by potential pre-existing health conditions that the responder is not aware of.
Correlation Not Causation
For example, if someone develops a wheat allergy later in life, they may not be aware of it. However, whenever they eat things with wheat in it, they feel the negative impacts on their allergy. The physical issues impact the person mental health-wise as well. Instead of connecting the issue to wheat, the person possibly connects the negative side effects to carbohydrates. When they cut out carbs, they’re cutting out wheat.
Once they eliminate carbs, they start feeling better, both mentally and physically. However, their improvement is due to the elimination of wheat, not carbs. This person likely believes that not eating carbohydrates improves people’s mental health in general. However, this is simply not the case. All that happened was that the individual in question stopped ingesting the food that they were allergic to.
Possible Ties Discovered Thus Far
The Mediterranean diet is a nutritional system that is derived from the typical diet of European countries. It emphasizes plant-based eating, cooking with olive oil, fish, poultry, beans, and ancient grains. Recent studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet works as a proactive measure against depressive episodes.
The keto diet is a nutritional plan that consists of foods high in natural fats and low in carbohydrates. Some scientists have posited that the keto diet helps children with drug resistant epilepsy prevent seizures. Less seizures leads to less trauma and better mental and emotional health.
B-12 deficiencies are linked to psychosis and mania as well as other mental health symptoms. For those people with deficiencies, taking B-12 supplements significantly improves both mental and physical health.