What we put into our mouths matters to our mental health, so what should we be eating?
A healthy diet means consuming a wide variety of nutritious foods every day such as fresh fruit (two serves per day), vegetables (five serves per day), wholegrain, nuts, legumes, oily fish, dairy products, small quantities of meat, small quantities of olive oil and plenty of water.
For example, following a Mediterranean diet can result in a 30% lowering of the risk of developing depression.
The Mediterranean diet in general is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods. In Mediterranean countries, people have been identified as having lower rates of cognitive decline, depression and dementia.
In Japan, a diet low in processed foods and high in fresh fruit, vegetables, green tea and soy products is recognised for its protective role in mental health.
We all indulge from time to time but moderation is the key. Limit junk food to a minimum or special occasions. Try to limit foods that are high in energy and high in kilojoules, such as processed or take away foods, processed meats, fried food etc. Research shows that while healthy diets can reduce the risk or severity of depression, unhealthy diets may in fact increase the risk.
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