Infographic: Food and Mental Health


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FoodAndMentalHealthSaludToday Guest Blogger
Brietta Mengel

While it’s common knowledge that certain foods influence your weight, it’s not as widely known that food can also affect your mental health.

Here we take a look at what foods can make mental illness worse, and which can help promote a healthy mind.

More than 16% of Latinos experienced a mental illness in the previous year. Depression is the No. 1 cause of disability in the world, and $193 billion is the cost of mental illness in lost earnings per year. More than half of people with mental illness do not even seek help, especially Latinos.

Foods that work for your health include:

  • fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. Deficiencies of these chemicals are linked to depression and the fatty acids also help the part of the brain that covers learning and memory functions.
  • Choosing whole grains over processed complex carbohydrates releases glucose at a slower and steady rate, which prevents blood sugar from spiking and helps you feel fuller longer.
  • Lean proteins help to balance serotonin levels, which are linked to anxiety disorders as well as depression.
  • One of the benefits of leafy greens is that they have high amounts of folic acid to help fight depression, fatigue, and insomnia. Broccoli offers selenium to help maintain a healthy immune system.
  • Yogurt with active cultures can reduce anxiety and stress. They also help fight bad bacteria in your digestive tract and keep your immune system strong.

To keep your mind healthy, you’ll want to avoid sugary drinks, which spike your blood sugar, which can cause anxiety. Also, you avoid those sugar crashes which are terrible for those with depression. Avoid excessive caffeine as well, as it can trigger panic attacks in those prone to anxiety. Not to mention, 3 out of 4 people who use caffeine are addicted to it. You shouldn’t skip breakfast, since it stabilizes blood sugar and metabolism rates. You should also avoid high fat foods.

Most dairy, fried, refined and sugary foods have no nutritional value and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obese Americans have a higher rate of depression and are 25% more likely to experience a mood disorder.

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