How does diet affect mental wellbeing?

17th June 2019

Those who are conscious of their mental wellbeing are now trying to understand the things that affect it. Through extensive scientific study and increased public awareness, we are starting to gain a better understanding of mental health, and the factors that may influence it. A commonly observed symptom of some mental health disorders according to the Healthline is a reduced appetite. From this study, we understand that our emotional wellbeing affects our stomachs. Therefore it seems reasonable to ask the question, do our stomachs affect our emotional health? Our intestines are home to hundreds of different species of bacteria, and recent studies by the British Medical Journal have been showing that each one has a different job. We’ve looked into some of the latest research to discover the theories to  see if the things you eat can affect your mental wellbeing.healthy fruits on a table

What is Mental Wellbeing?

Firstly we must understand precisely what mental wellbeing is before we go searching for it. The mental health charity MIND.org defines mental wellbeing as a description of your mental state, how you are feeling, and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. According to mind, your mental wellbeing can be influenced by many factors including, sleep, movement and what you eat.

Physical Health

Our physical health can have an impact on the way we feel. Individuals with different eating habits and routines may find what they eat can influence their energy levels. Maintaining blood sugar levels will provide our bodies with sustained energy says Jenna Fletcher at Medical News Today, allowing us to feel more productive or giving us the inspiration to exercise. Weight is not necessarily a factor, but how you feel about your weight can be. According to Fletcher, having the energy to burn off those few extra calories at the gym, or to inspire you to go for a walk may help you feel more comfortable in your body. As wellbeing covers so many bases, it’s essential to remember your physical health is vital to help you keep doing the things you love. Whether that’s playing with your grandchildren or going for coffee with a friend.

What Foods Should I Eat and Why?

Certain foods have been identified to encourage the growth of bacteria that is good for your gut. These foods are high in fibre and include raspberries, green peas, lentils and whole grains. The NHS Eatwell Guide provides people with nutritional advice and information on how to eat a healthy balanced diet. Based on a nutritional wheel, it contains information on the five food groups:
• Fruit and vegetables
• Starchy carbohydrates
• Dairy and alternatives
• Beans, pulses, fish and other proteins
• Oils and spreads
Details on what’s included in these groups and what ratio to eat are given, along with advice on how best to incorporate them into your daily lives and recommendations on how much water to drink.meal prep healthy colourful food

Something to Avoid

One thing that is generally agreed on is to avoid the consumption of artificial trans fats. It has been suggested by the foundation Heart.org that too much of this type of fat in your diet can cause a range of problems from insulin sensitivity to high cholesterol. The direct link this could have on your mental wellbeing is still unclear, although as mentioned earlier, it is important to look after your physical health. According to healthline.com, trans fats can be found in a wide range of processed foods, and, the best way to avoid them is to carefully read food labels and avoid shop bought cakes and biscuits.girl eating a green apple by sunny window

In conclusion, a healthy and balanced diet has a link to improving wellbeing, which in turn can enhance their quality of life. Preparing meals from fresh and cutting out salty and sugary snacks is a great start. To learn more about nutrition and food, take a look at our healthy cooking retreats. Each retreat offers the chance to learn about the delicious, organic food prepared for you each day by a knowledgeable chef, and some include organic healthy cooking classes.