Today most Indian urban society pays no attention to the relationship between food and mental health. Nutritionist Avni Kaul points this issue as a serious mental health concern for the overall society.
Nutritionist Avni shares that Indian cities, in the last 2-3 decades, have witnessed the rapid introduction of the commercialized food industry and the massive adaptation of fast and unhealthy food, especially among youngsters. Most of these commercially manufactured foods are loaded with artificial flavors that are directly linked with depression and mood swings.
According to a Harvard Medical School’s report, named “Gut feelings: How food affects your mood”, the report highlights the deep connection of the human brain and the gut, in fact, 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut (serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of human brain functioning, it is also called happy chemical as it contributes to wellness and happiness in the brain). The more we eat naturally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, the better the gut and brain relationships work.
However, when we consume foods with chemical additives or eat ultra-processed foods containing high quantities of sugar, starch and hydrogenated fats, and lab-made flavor enhancers and food colorings – it severely damages our gut environment and increases our risk of mental health issues.
Some of the common ultra-processed foods are fast foods that are manufactured to be extra tasty by the use of quantities of sugar, starch, and hydrogenated fats, and lab-made additives, and are cost-effective to the consumer. Some examples of ultra-processed foods are soda, sugary or savory packaged snacks, bakeries, pizzas, burgers, fish or chicken nuggets, and instant noodle soups.
Similarly, studies from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) and the University of Granada (Spain) have revealed that consumers of fast food, compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression. Furthermore, the study has indicated that there is a dose-response relationship between these foods and mental health, i.e. The more the fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression. In this article, Nutritionist Avni Kaul not only suggests readers keep a check on their fast and junk food eating but also shares 3 vital diets that can help you fight depression and mood swings.
Although most of the nuts such as cashews, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are rich in omega-3 fats that are good for brain development besides being healthy, it is the walnuts that win the category for the best brain supporting nuts.
Walnuts are known to support overall brain health, being one of the highest plant-based sources of omega-3 and a great source of protein to help keep blood sugar levels at a healthy balance.
According to researchers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which draws from a large sampling of more than 26,000 American adults – suggest that depression scores were 26% lower among those who consumed about one-quarter cup of walnuts per day. They found that adults who ate nuts, and specifically walnuts, were more likely to have higher levels of optimism, energy, hope, concentration, and a greater interest in activities.
Flaxseed and chia seeds are wonderful additions to your diet if you struggle with depression. These two seeds are great sources of omega-3 fat. In fact, one tablespoon of chia seeds provides approximately 61% of your daily recommended amount of omega-3 and one tablespoon of flaxseed provides roughly 39% of the daily recommendation.
Similarly, pumpkin and squash seeds are also a great addition to increase tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps create serotonin hormone, that maintains the feeling of mental wellbeing in the body.
Good gut health is directly related to good mental health. Microorganisms living in our gut, including probiotics can play a key role in the mood by helping to reduce inflammation in our body, produce feel-good neurotransmitters and affect your stress response.
This might be a factor in why a higher-than-average number of people with irritable bowel syndrome develop depression as well as anxiety. Foods that contain probiotics include – Yogurt, Shrikhand, Idli, and Paneer.