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Nutritional Psychiatry: Emerging Approach in Treatment of Mental Health

Mental Health

Mental health is just as critical as physical health, but we seldom discuss it openly.

Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental illnesses are all affected by the foods we eat.

Depression is the most common of all, and despite all of the drugs and therapy, a healthy diet will help to reduce the severity of this mental illness.

Recent studies have shown that a well-balanced diet is beneficial to both physical and mental health.

We have never taken the effects of food and nutrition seriously in the past, but diet is by far the most effective intervention we have.

According to statistics, a low-quality diet is responsible for 80% of depression in teenagers.

What you eat has a significant impact on your brain’s structure and function, as well as on your mood.

As an example, a car performs better when premium fuel is used, and similarly, our brain performs best when we eat a high-quality diet.

Effect of Foods When You Consume?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that aids in the regulation of sleep and appetite, as well as mood mediation and pain inhibition.

Since your gastrointestinal tract produces 95 percent of your serotonin and is lined with a hundred million nerve cells or neurons.

It stands to reason that the inner workings of your digestive system not only help you absorb food, yet often direct your emotions.

Importance of Good Diet on Brain

More information about how healthy nutrition affects brain health discussed as follows,

1. Brain Development

When we eat real food that nourishes us, it transforms into protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters, which relay information and signals between different parts of the brain and body.

2. Brain Growth

Changes in a brain protein that helps improve interactions between brain cells are related to certain nutrients and dietary habits.

This substance is increased by consuming the diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

A diet rich in saturated fats and refined sugars, on the other hand, has a very potent negative effect on brain proteins.

3. Promotion of Healthy Bacteria

The gut contains trillions of beneficial bacteria.

They help to keep the immune system in check and ward off bad germs, which means they help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Some gut bacteria also aid in the production of brain-boosting B vitamins.

Probiotic-rich foods aid in the maintenance of a balanced gut system, or biome.

A healthier microbiome can reduce inflammation, which affects mood and cognition.

Effect of Diet on Mental Health

It’s important to consider the impact of diet on mental health.

Our diet and mental health have a complicated relationship.

However, there is a connection between what we eat and how we feel, according to studies.

Positive Effects

Our diet affects our brain, and some foods can make us feel better.

Having a nutritious diet may contain a diverse group of components that are essential for a healthy brain leading to better mental health such as,

1. B Vitamins

Vitamins that help the body to Low B12 levels are associated with increased brain inflammation, as well as higher rates of depression and dementia.

Low folate levels have long been related to depressed moods. A healthy diet must have this group of vitamins.

2. Iron

Food consumption which includes iron is much important otherwise its deficiency will cause anemia that is a lack of iron in the blood and it has been related to depression.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These beneficial fatty acids aid in memory and cognition, as well as potentially improving mood. Hence their presence in diet is beneficial for mental health.

4. Zinc

The zinc is a mineral that aids in the regulation of the body’s stress response.

Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression. Food having zinc promotes better mental health.

For Instance
  • A diet having lots of vegetables, seafood, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, cereal, and grains supplemented with fish oil can reduce the symptoms of depression.
  • Oysters are a good choice because they provide 500 percent of your daily zinc requirement while only having 10 calories per serving.
  • Mussels, which are high in selenium, a brain-healthy mineral, are also a good option.

Negative Impacts

On the other hand, there are two groups of foods that harm the brain

  1. Food that tricks our mind to release a chemical that eventually disrupts the mood.

For Instance:

Caffeine and Chocolate.

  • Foods that prevent the conversion of other foods into nutrients the brain needs

For Instance:

Saturated fat such as butter, lard, etc.

The researchers confirmed that certain foods have easily demonstrable ties to mental health, such as how nutrition in the womb and early life may have a major impact on brain activity later in life.

Nutritional Psychiatry

Nutritional psychiatry is a rapidly expanding field that treats mental illnesses with diet and supplements.

A lack of basic nutrients has been linked to the onset of mental illness.

Nutritional psychiatry is a growing field that focuses on the use of food and supplements to include these important nutrients as part of an integrated or alternative mental health treatment plan.

Many people don’t get enough of the nutrients needed for good brain health, instead opting for a diet high in processed foods with artificial additives and sugar.

Why Nutritional Psychiatry?

Nutritionists in the complementary health field have long recognized the correlation between poor mental health and nutritional deficiencies.

Antidepressant efficacy is now a hot topic of discussion.

Food supplements are an alternative solution that has the potential to significantly improve the mental health of people of all ages.

Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are only now becoming more aware of the effects of nutritional approaches to mental health and are urging their colleagues to promote and study this emerging area of care.

Many mental health problems are now believed to be caused by inflammation in the brain, which leads to the death of brain cells.

This inflammatory response begins in our gut and is linked to a lack of nutrients from our diet, such as magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are essential for our bodies to function properly.

Thus, nutritional psychiatry encourages the use of food supplements like zinc, magnesium, omega 3, and vitamins B and D3 to improve people’s moods, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve mental ability, likewise the use of probiotics to promote mental health by decreasing depression and anxiety.

What Are The Future Prospects of Nutritional Psychiatry?

While the medical community has a reputation for dismissing unconventional therapies and procedures, the evidence for nutritional psychiatry is overwhelming.

The collaboration of nutritionists, physicians, and mental health providers can be the most effective way to treat and cure mental illnesses.

Nutritional psychiatry could be the answer for people suffering from mental illnesses who haven’t found relief from drugs.

Given the current controversy about the efficacy of antidepressants and other medications, nutritional therapy presents a compelling option.

Conclusion

According to new empirical evidence, nutritional psychiatry should play a larger role in mental health within traditional health care.

Therapists must be aware of the connection between food, inflammation, and mental illness if the burden of mental illness is to be reduced.

A healthy and well-balanced diet is important for our health. More psychiatrists should be aware of the connection between diet and mental health.

Food is an important part of every mental health care plan, no matter where you are on the spectrum, hence what you eat is what you feel.

Written By Shiza Atif BSc (Hons.) Agriculture (Food Technology) Institute of Food and Nutritional Sciences, PMAS-Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi.

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