If there's any truth to the adage you are what you eat, then food must have a huge impact on your health. More and more people are discovering this link between food and mental health, but not many are familiar with the concept of nutritional psychiatry, even though the name does give away its meaning, at least partially.
For years, dietitians have studied the effect of nutrition on mental health, and interest in this field has only become stronger as new studies show that the types of food you eat may have an impact on your mood.
This is where nutritional psychiatry comes in. Researchers and nutritionists are getting behind this emerging field to help people understand the effect of nutrition on your physical and mental health.
A standard American diet consists of sugary, highly processed foods that are linked with inflammation, a common trigger behind depression. Various studies have shown that a diet high in fats, sugar, refined carbs, and processed meats increases the risk of mental illnesses.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health recently published a study showing a link between nutrition and depression.
While greasy foods like bacon, fried chicken, french fries, and donuts are obviously bad for your health, healthy fats such as omega-3, found in salmon, avocado, and olive oil have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body.
Healthy fats are commonly linked with low depression rates, which is why some psychiatrists recommend a high-fat diet to mental health patients.
Fatty fish is especially beneficial for women, as shown in one 2020 study which concluded that women who consumed 1-2 servings of fish twice a week showed a 25% decrease in depression in comparison to those who didn't eat it at all.
Deficiencies in crucial nutrients such as vitamin D, folate, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B12, and B6 are also linked with depression. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can significantly lower the risk of developing mental illnesses later on in life.