Therapy on a plate: how your diet can benefit your mental health

You probably know that a good diet (less saturated fat, less sodium, more fruits and vegetables) is important for heart health. But more and more people are finding that eating the right foods can protect their mental health. 2019 one meta-analysis, the first study to evaluate data on the effects of diet on depression and anxiety, found that diet can have a positive effect. For example, one examine he found it after three weeks Mediterranean diet, a group of young adults (ages 17-35) reported that, on average, depression scores dropped from moderate to normal. They also reported less anxiety. The control team, which continued to eat a lot of low-fat fruits and vegetables and processed foods and refined carbohydrates, did not see any reduction in depression scores.

A change in diet has also been shown to reduce the risk of dementia. These findings have led to development REMEMBER diet, a Mediterranean mash-up and MARCH which emphasizes diets, fats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, along with dietary strategies to lower blood pressure. The evidence for dietary interventions for other mental conditions is not so strong, but it is growing.

It is not yet clear why eating well can help with mental illness, but researchers speculate that diet may affect mental health through inflammation, oxidative stress and its effects. mitochondrial dysfunction. And of course intestinal microbiome very likely to participate.

A New Specialty

Increasingly this evidence has led to a new field of medicine: nutritional psychiatry. Although the area is still young (and it may not be easy for you to find a psychiatrist who will include food in your treatment plan), you may want to change your psychiatric game. “Psychiatry has really fought to be in the world of prevention,” says Drew Ramsey, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons and a pioneer in the field of nutritional psychiatry. Paying attention to nutrition can be a good way to maintain mental health and prevent mental illness.

However, Ramsey warned: “There is no magic bullet for mental health.” However, the author of Ramsey Eat to overcome depression and anxiety, believes that the field needs to do a better job of educating and empowering the public about the role of protecting the mental health of the individual. Traditionally, mental health has been seen as something passive: “You have this until you have it,” he says. But we can’t just sit back and hope we don’t get depressed. 2020, One in five adults in the United States he experienced some kind of mental illness. This makes the potential of diet as a key resource for dealing with problems very exciting, he says.

This does not mean that the field of nutritional psychiatry is at the point where your doctor can prescribe a prescription for the agricultural market, even if you managed to find a doctor with the new approach, explained Uma Naido, director of nutrition and lifestyle. Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, and another pioneer in the field. Although not a thorough investigation, Nadioo says he has seen evidence directly linking diet and mental health. “I’ve seen it in my clinical practice; people start making those changes, and they start to feel better. ”

Naidoo, author This is your brain about food, he is also a trained cook. He acknowledged that his training at the culinary school helped him to develop a habit of discipline and planning. But his skills as a cook also help patients. In her practice, she is busy planning meals, preparing meals in groups, shopping for food, and other tasks that make it easier to eat.

While teaching patients how to eat better is key, the real challenge may be to teach doctors how to use dietary approaches in practice. Physicians receive little training in nutrition, and it takes some time, albeit strong evidence, for new approaches to be introduced into routine practice. But Naidoo is in that. “My intention has become to help other providers prepare for this type of work so that they can help more people,” he says.

Good, and good for you

In the meantime, there is no danger in eating well. While dietary approaches should never replace medications or other therapies recommended by doctors, paying more attention to diet is a great way to maintain mental health. It can also be a supplement to pharmacy or conversation therapy.

If you think you’re counting on blueberries and weighing on the street, or you have to force foods you don’t really like, be happy to know that eating healthy – mental or otherwise – is much easier. and much more adaptable than that.

Ramsey suggests thinking in categories rather than specific foods. “What really matters is our diet pattern,” he says. And he shares a little rhyme to drive: “Seafood, greens, nuts and beans, and a little dark chocolate.” Which seafood and which green in your hands.

He also suggests what he calls “simple exchanges.” You can make a big difference in the quality of your diet by replacing it with sweet soda tea or flavored celery or ordering guacamole instead of cheese dip.

Eating well isn’t as expensive as you might think, either. Seafood can be expensive, especially nowadays. But, Ramsey says, canned tuna is as healthy as a slice of cheap salmon. In fact, it can be better, especially if you are more likely to eat three times a week. Frozen vegetables are also good and often more nutritious than fresh.

The key, says Naidook, is to take advantage of the foods you enjoy eating. “I strongly believe that in order to be healthy, we should not give up anything in terms of taste or enjoyment.”

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