There is an increasing amount of evidence to show that there is a strong link between a well balanced diet, regular exercise and positive mental health.
Diet and Mental Health Issues
Diets which include small quantities of protein rich foods such as eggs, nuts, lean meat, fish and poultry, together with adequate amounts of fibre rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and legumes, have been linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety. Conversely, people who consume excessive amounts of sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, takeaway foods and processed meat are more prone to mental health issues.
Reasons for Increased Rates of Depression
There are several reason why a poor diet is linked to increased rates of depression.
- For the body to function well, it requires an optimum amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements and phytonutrients). If there is not enough protein available, the body cannot make essential enzymes and hormones which regulate metabolism and mood.
- Inadequate unsaturated fat, particularly omega 3 fatty-acids, have been linked with increased rates of depression. A deficiency of vitamins, minerals and trace elements can have a detrimental effect on the nervous system, the endocrine system, our immune system and all of our vital organs.
- In addition to a poor diet, excess alcohol, obesity, smoking, inadequate sleep and high stress levels can increase the risk of depression as they all increase inflammation in the body. An excessive intake of caffeine has also been linked to an increased risk of anxiety.
Regular Physical Activity
Conversely, regular physical activity reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, as exercise increases the level of feel good hormones in the body such as serotonin.
Well Balanced Diet
A well balanced diet, with plenty of fibre rich foods and adequate fluid, not only provides the body with all the key nutrients it requires for good health, it also promotes a healthy microbiome. A healthy microbiome, where there is ample beneficial bacteria in the gastro-intestinal system, not only enhances the digestion and absorption of nutrients but also increases the production of natural anti-depressant hormones. Learn more about meal planning. Get some inspiration with our delicious recipes.
It is essential after bariatric surgery that you eat a nutritious diet; exercise regularly; take your recommended daily vitamin and mineral supplements; ensure adequate quality sleep and make time to relax and have fun!