World Mental Health Day - How Having a Healthy Balanced Diet Can Help

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Today is World Mental Health Day and this year is the 25th anniversary of the day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues, and to fighting the stigma. This is a day close to my heart, I am living proof that a change in lifestyle can help contribute to managing the effects ofmental health problems.   

There are lots of other great tips provided by amazing organisations that can help when with mental health problems, have a look at some provided by The Mental Health Foundation that we have written about before. But today we are going to look a little deeper into how eating a healthy balanced diet can help with mental health issues with the guidance of the BDA (British Dietetics Association).

1. According to the BDA, good nutrition is important for our mental and physical health and how following a healthy diet can protect it.

2. We need to feed your brain regularly with the right mix of nutrients for it to work properly. Unlike other organs, our brain relies on a steady supply of glucose (ideally coming from starch carbohydrates) as its primary fuel.

3. Our brains are made of around 50% fat, and our cells need fats to maintain their structures, so a supply of fats are needed to maintain health. Try to keep a moderate and balanced intake of healthy (unsaturated) fats and reduce trans fats (which could be harmful to brain structure and function) in your diet, to ensure our brain is well nourished. 

4. Tryptophan is one of the building blocks of protein, and research suggests that it may help with depression. A diet with enough protein should contain plenty of tryptophan. Good sources include
fish, poultry, eggs and game and some green leafy vegetables (such as spinach) and seeds.

5. Wholegrain cereals, peas, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are rich in B vitamins (amongst other vitamins and minerals) and evidence suggests that these nutrients are important in managing depression. Try to eat at least five different fruits and vegetables daily to get all the vitamins and minerals you need.

6. Evidence shows that even mild dehydration may affect your mood. A healthy brain contains up to 78% water, so it makes sense to drink plenty too. Aim for 6-8 glasses (about 1.5- 2 litres) fluid per day.

Have a listen to the below 15 minute podcast provided by the Mental Health Foundation about Wellbeing and Nutrition for some practical exercises to help make changes and eat a healthy balanced diet.

If you're worried about your mental health or someone else's please call one of these amazing organisations who can help you. There is always someone that will listen and help, please do not suffer alone. 

Ailsa