Short answer - YES!
There is no question about it, but it seems there are people wondering what the connection is.
It's no secret that eating healthier can make our physical body feel better, but what about mentally? There have been multiple studies done to prove the connection. Going as far as eating a range of healthier choices can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. While the not-so-healthy choices can potentially lead to early signs of dementia and stroke.
We are sure of two things though and according to the UK Mental Health Foundation, there are two groups of foods that have a negative effect on the brain:
foods that trick the brain into releasing chemicals we may be lacking, temporarily altering our mood (for example, caffeine and chocolate) Interesting as many of us use chocolate as a mechanism.
foods that prevent the conversion of other foods into nutrients the brain needs (for example, saturated fat such as butter, lard and palm oil).
Clear as mud? Let's talk micronutrients!
These very important nutrients are required in order to keep us mentally healthy and yes guess what. They come from your diet or supplementation.
Vitamin D; activates the gene expression of enzymes that help produce neurotransmitters
B-vitamins; help synthesize DNA, maintain the fatty myelin covering over neurons, and help produce mood-altering neurotransmitters
Antioxidants; prevent oxidative stress that can lead to DNA damage and conditions like depression and anxiety
Omega-3; required for healthy cell membranes
Fiber; helps maintain a healthy population of “good” bacteria in your gut and have been shown to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms
Along with many signs and symptoms of deficiencies, if you think you are deficient in one of these nutrients, I recommend seeing your doctor.
"With 1 in 5 Canadians experiencing a personal mental health condition, nutrition is now thought to be as important to mental health as it is to heart health." - Mental Health and Nutrition - Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (cdhf.ca)
Key Take Away: Eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your overall optimal health. It isn't just about your physical body.
Not sure if your mental health is connected to your food consumption?
I challenge you to try our Food/Mood Journal and test this for yourself.