For years now, we’ve been learning more and more about how diet affects our everyday lives. We understand that things like cholesterol and sugar can create specific types of dangerous and even permanent harm, and we’re constantly reading and learning more about what to and what not to put in our bodies with respect to our overall health. One link that hasn’t seemingly been analyzed deeply is that between diet and mental health, but that may be starting to change.
Researchers in Great Britain have recently released a study that delves deeply into that potential link between diet and mental health. They focus specifically on fruit consumption and compare it to eating savory snacks that are not necessarily healthy. The findings are quite interesting, and they could lead to the formation of a roadmap for a diet that helps to promote not only good physical, but mental health.
About the Diet and Mental Health Study
Researchers at Aston University surveyed a total of 428 adults for this study. 53 percent of them were female. All of the participants were between 18 and 60 years old. In addition, people with health problems that included:
- A medically diagnosed eating disorder
- Color blindness
- A food allergy
- High blood pressure
- A recent heart attack
Were excluded. From there, the remaining participants were asked to complete questionnaires that dealt with their overall food consumption during the previous 30 days. Several food groups were specified, including:
- Fresh or canned fruit
- Fresh or canned vegetables excluding potatoes
- Sweet snacks such as chocolate or cakes
- Savory snacks such as chips
From there, the participants were asked to keep track of their overall mental state and what were called “everyday mental lapses” that included occurrences such as forgetting where you put your keys, why you walked into a room, etc.
A Discussion of the Results
While this study wasn’t necessarily put together to specifically study the potential link between diet and mental health, it did uncover some potential findings that could prompt additional looks at this possible link. Some examples of the findings include:
- Those who consumed fruit often had fewer instances of depressive episodes and higher scores for overall wellbeing.
- Those who consumed more unhealthy savory snacks suffered through more everyday mental lapses and experienced a lower level of overall mental wellbeing.
- The more everyday mental lapses someone experienced, the higher their levels of anxiety, depression and stress tended to be.
- There was no apparent link between mental lapses and the consumption of fruit, vegetables or sweet snacks.
The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, and those who wish to read it in its entirety can find it here.
What does this all mean? It’s too early to say anything definitively, but it seems that there is a potentially strong link between eating fruits often – and not necessarily a lot of fruit, but eating small amounts regularly – and good mental health. Some experts have theorized that the reason that there is no real link between the consumption of vegetables and strong mental health is because we tend to eat fruit raw and cook our vegetables, thereby removing some of the nutrients and vitamins.
What does seem clear with regards to overall diet and mental health is that eating unhealthy savory snacks does more harm than good to our bodies. It affects our brains negatively, and this negative effect leads to psychological fallout that in itself can be damaging. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers called for more in-depth looks into this potential link between diet and mental health.
Another Important Factor?
While it shouldn’t come as a shock to people that eating healthy things leads to healthy results, the specific diet and mental health link involving fruit consumption is relatively new. However, we’ve all seen already that in general, living a healthy lifestyle generally does lead to better mental health. For reference, see this guideline published by NAMI, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
We have also discussed the potential links between obesity and mental health as well as a sedentary lifestyle and mental health, and while these are not the same as what’s being discussed here, all of these factors should be considered when someone is trying to improve their overall mental state.
Some Ideas to Consider
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety or any other challenge, perhaps it would serve the situation well to look at the potential link between diet and mental health. If you or this person tends to eat unhealthy snacks, for instance, making a change could be of benefit for several physical and mental reasons. Not to mention, this type of change can often lead to an overall healthier lifestyle which in itself could lead to an improved state of mental health.
The best place to start with any of this is by speaking to your medical doctor, as he or she will be able to review your overall lifestyle with you and perhaps even identify a potential link between your diet and mental health. He or she will also be able to provide you with specific guidance and a plan for success.
How SoCal Empowered Can Help
If you or a loved one is struggling mightily with mental health, whether it’s because of the potential link between diet and mental health or any other possible reason, you can always feel free to contact our team. We will listen to what’s happening with you and help you find the right path to help, whether that includes a stay with us or not. Take that important step today towards restoring the health and happiness to your life that all of us deserve.