Are you someone who suffers from depression or anxiety? Do you currently receive counselling support and take prescribed medication, but feel like there is something missing in your treatment plan? Or maybe you still feel fatigued, lethargic and lack motivation to do some of your normal daily activities, like cooking and eating? You’re not alone.
Over 5 million Australians have depression, anxiety or related feelings (ABS 2018). Up until recently, the main form of treatment for these mental health conditions involved psychological support and/or medications. However, research is rapidly growing for other options to support existing treatment, and one of these options is focused on our diet. In fact, there is now a good body of evidence to suggest that the quality of our diet can impact our mental health. Where low quality diets are associated with an increased risk of depression and high-quality diets are associated with a reduced risk of depression and can improve depressive symptoms (Firth et al. 2019).
How is diet quality and mental health linked?
We actually don’t fully understand the link between diet quality and mental health (yet). However, research is growing and theories are becoming clearer each day. A high-quality diet provides us with a large variety of nutrients, that may support a number of biological processes related to our mental health. This may include supporting:
- The reduction of inflammatory markers and oxidative stress
- The regulation of our stress hormones
- The relationship between our gut and brain
- The generation of certain brain cells that may impact our mood
These processes are complex and require more research, however they do provide us with some promising areas to consider when looking at our diet quality (Marx et al. 2020).
So what now?
Diet very well could be the missing piece in your mental health care plan. But you may be thinking that your mental health gets in the way of your diet and makes it impossible to change.
Or maybe you have attempted to change your diet in the past by cutting out “bad” foods or jumping onto the latest diet trend which promises you great results, only to end up not being able to stick to it long term and feeling worse for it.
We understand that it can feel overwhelming and unachievable, but what if I told you there was another way?
What if I told you that you could improve your diet quality by including more nourishing foods that boost your mood and help you feel good, without having to cut out any food or food group? And, that you can learn how to do this so that the process of shopping, prepping, cooking and eating is EASY. Easy, even on the days that you feel at your lowest and have little or no motivation?
You can. You just need to know where to get the right support for this. Including a qualified dietitian on your mental health care plan, and learning how to consistently increase your diet quality based on the latest scientific evidence is a great next step. Simply come with a desire to learn, take a slow yet steady approach, and we can do the rest!
Here at the Healthy Eating Clinic, we have a 12-week Mental Health program! If this sounds like a good addition to your mental health care plan, you can read more about it here.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. Mental Health. ACT: ABS; 2018. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/mental-health/2017-18#methodology.
Firth J, Marx W, Dash S, Carney R, Teasdale S, Solmi M, Stubbs B, Schuch F, Cavalho A, Jacka F, Sarris J (2019). The Effects of Dietary Improvement on Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety. Psychosomatic Medicine, 81(3), 265–280. doi:10.1097/psy.0000000000000673
Marx W, Lane M, Hockey M, Aslam H, Berk M, Walder K, Borsini A, Firth J, Pariante CM, Berding K, Cryan JF, Clarke G, Craig JM, Su KP, Mischoulon D, Gomez-Pinilla F, Foster JA, Cani PD, Thuret S, Staudacher HM, Sánchez-Villegas A, Arshad H, Akbaraly T, O’Neil A, Segasby T, Jacka FN (2020). Diet and depression: exploring the biological mechanisms of action. Mol Psychiatry. 2021 Jan;26(1):134-150. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-00925-x.