An abundance of research exists on the association between nutrition and mental health. Example, higher intakes of selenium, zinc, unsaturated fatty acids, fruit and vegetables have been shown to protect against adverse mental health. However, these types of results are not representative of the habitual diet as we must acknowledge that the human diet consists of whole foods, not solely of individual vitamins and minerals.
We don’t eat single nutrients. We eat whole foods that are made up of multiple nutrients. Certain diets are linked to better mental health.
Dietary quality and dietary patterns are thought to be better predictors of disease risk compared to intake of individual nutrients. They are more representative of the habitual diet and take into consideration the types of food we eat as well as food group servings. The current research suggests that high dietary quality and adherence to a healthy dietary pattern such as the DASH diet or Mediterranean style diet are protective against adverse mental health.
Mediterranean Style Diet
•Large amounts of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans & nuts.
•Moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, dairy & olive oil.
•Small amounts of red meat, processed meat & confectionary.
DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
•Large amounts of fruit, vegetables & wholegrains.
•Moderate amounts of low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, beans, nuts & vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
•Small amounts of fatty meat, full-fat dairy, sugar-sweetened beverages, confectionary & tropical oils such as coconut & palm oil.
This spring why not try to make one dietary change to support your mood and mental health. You could choose to eat one extra portion of fruit/veg per day or you could replace white bread, rice and pasta for the wholegrain variants.
My favourite way to include whole grains at breakfast is to have a couple of slices of my Wholemeal Banana and Blueberry Bread, maybe with a spread of nut butter. Recipe: https://thebakingnutritionist.com/banana-blueberry-bread/
I love adding fresh nuts and seeds to homemade granola. You can get my granola recipe here: https://thebakingnutritionist.com/granola Beautiful at lunch time served with chopped up fresh fruit and natural yogurt.
I aim to have variety throughout the week at dinner time. Choosing a different wholegrain each day is a good idea, rotating between brown pasta, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat and pearl barley. All available in the supermarkets.
Confectionery is advised in limited amounts as part of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Therefore, when you treat yourself, make sure it’s something wonderful! This Raspberry and Lemon Cheesecake is a perfect springtime treat and. Recipe: https://thebakingnutritionist.com/lemon-raspberry-cheesecake/
When we speak of food and mood, we can’t overlook the role of exercise too. The recommendations are 30 mins exercise X 5 times/week, such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc. coupled with regular reflective practice, such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, etc. and social activity, such as chatting to friends, group sports, book club, etc.