Nutritional Psychiatry: How does food affect your Mental Health?

Nutritional Psychiatry: How does food affect your Mental Health?

Eating has a big influence on one’s happiness and health, as is well recognized. But as time goes on, we learn more and more about the impact that food has on our mental, emotional, and social well-being, this is called nutritional psychiatry. Despite the fact that there is still much to understand about the underlying link, there is significant evidence to show that diet and mental health are in fact closely related. Your go-to source for information on how what you eat may affect your well-being and mental health. 

We’ll go over what is currently known about the relationship between diet and mental health, take a closer look at certain eating habits that may be advantageous, and examine simple steps you may take to keep a happy attitude. Mental health issues have historically been treated with psychiatric therapies like therapy, medication, and even hospitalization.

Nutritional Psychiatry

Nutritional Psychiatry

Nutritional psychiatry is a new discipline that concentrates on how food impacts people mentally. It promotes food and lifestyle adjustments that are used to treat mental health conditions. Our meals affect our brains just as much as they do the rest of our bodies, despite the fact that this may not have been as obvious to us in the past. 

Our food choices have such a significant influence on our brains because of how closely our gastrointestinal tract, or what is more commonly referred to as “the gut,” is tied to the brain. The gut is home to many billions of living bacteria that carry out a range of vital physical functions. One of these functions is the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that connect to the brain and regulate a number of physiological processes, including sleep, pain, appetite, mood, and emotion. In fact, the two organs’ intricate communication has earned the gut the nickname “second brain.” 

How does food affect your Mental Health?

According to research, the foods we eat have an impact on the health of the microbial colonies in our gut, which in turn impacts the health of our brains and, as a result, our mental and emotional well-being. 

The Mediterranean diet can help with depression

The Mediterranean diet can help with depression

Several studies in the last several years have discovered connections between dietary habits, gut health, and the risk of depression. According to one study, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and low in red and processed meats was associated with a 10% lower incidence of depressive symptoms. 

At least two significant studies directly assessed the Mediterranean diet’s capacity to lower depression measures in test groups, with encouraging outcomes. Though not every study on the subject came to such startling conclusions, further human trials are still required. However, the preliminary data is strong.

For anxiety and stress: Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and sweets

Several chemicals in particular have the potential to make anxiety symptoms worse: Caffeine, alcohol, and added sweets 

Additionally, studies have found links between anxiety and a poor diet overall, a high consumption of saturated fat, and a low intake of fruit. You might want to modify your food as part of your treatment plan if you find that you’re feeling particularly stressed or nervous. Consider cutting back on your alcohol, caffeine, and added sugar intake. Eat more fermented foods, unsaturated fats, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables instead since these may reduce overall body stress and inflammation.

A diet high in nutrients is beneficial for mood and mental health

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes a range of nutrients is one of the finest things you can do for your diet to enhance your mood. Although studies on the connections between food and mental health are ongoing, several shows that eating a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet might boost mood. For instance, a literature review identified a relationship between a higher-quality diet and better mood, while three studies indicated that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with less concern, reduced stress, and more life satisfaction. 

Nutrients for noticeably better mental health

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: walnuts, chia and flaxseeds, salmon, herring, sardines 
  • Folate: beef liver, rice, fortified cereals, black-eyed peas, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts 
  • Iron: oysters, beef liver, fortified cereals, spinach, dark chocolate, white beans, lentils, tofu Magnesium: spinach, pumpkin and chia seeds, soy milk, black beans, almonds, cashews, peanuts 
  • Zinc: oysters, chicken, pork chops, beef roast, Alaska king crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds 
  • B vitamins: chicken breast, beef liver, clams, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, potatoes, bananas
  • Vitamin A: beef liver, herring, cow’s milk, ricotta cheese, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe 
  • Vitamin C: red and green peppers, orange and grapefruit juice, strawberries, broccoli

Prebiotics and Probiotics

While probiotics really include beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are meals that nourish the bacteria that are already present in your stomach. Pre- and probiotics in the diet aid in keeping the gut’s homeostasis (stability) in a balanced condition. They could also affect how the body reacts to stress and sadness, according to some studies. Several foods contain prebiotics or probiotics, including 

  • fermented foods: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha
  • alliums: garlic, onions, leeks
  • vegetables: artichokes and asparagus
  • fruits: apples and bananas
  • grains: barley and oats Pro-Tips

Instead of packaged and processed meals, choose whole foods

Instead of packaged and processed meals, choose whole foods

  • Choosing whole grains over refined ones
  • entire fruits as opposed to dried and juiced fruits
  • Instead of red and processed meats, choose fish or lean chicken.
  • instead of sweetened dairy, use fermented dairy
  • Water with fruit infusions in place of soda
  • Instead of booze, try kombucha or herbal tea.
  • replacing sugar and salt with herbs and spices


The fascinating field of nutritional psychiatry has the capacity to alter how we think about mental health. Even while there is still much to learn, it is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining the bacteria in our gut is essential for maintaining our mental health and emotional regulation. One of the greatest methods to support gut health may be through a balanced diet; processed foods, on the other hand, are generally to be avoided because they are linked to poorer results. Start slightly and headway as you make dietary adjustments to enrich your mental health.