We've all heard it before, you are what you eat. What we may not have realized is that the food we eat and diet we keep can impact not only our physical health, but our mental health as well.
Two Major Health Issues
Across the globe, poor diet is responsible for many non-communicable diseases and major health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Nearly 20% of all deaths worldwide are linked to unhealthy eating habits. Mental health is the leading cause of global disability. Specifically, depression alone is one of the top five highest causes of disability across the world.
Diet and Mental Health Connections
Research has shown that diets in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, protein, unsaturated fats help to prevent depression. People with diets high in whole foods such as these are up to 35% less likely to develop depression than people who eat diets with less whole foods. On the other hand, diets that are high in processed, fried, and sugary foods can increase the likelihood of depression. Research has shown that diets high in these foods may even increase the risk of depression by as much as 60.6%. If you'd like to learn more about these studies, you can read more on Mental Health America's website.
Vitamins and Nutrients Key to Supporting Mental Health
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other whole foods from early life on into adulthood can help promote positive mental health. You can help protect your mental health even further by incorporating specific vitamins and nutrients into your diet. Vitamins and nutrients that promote mental health include:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in dark, leafy vegetables (like kale and spinach), oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout), walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Omega 3 fatty acids are key for healthy brain development and reducing inflammation.
- B Group Vitamins
The B group of vitamins help to regulate neurotransmitters - which regulate mood and other brain functions. B vitamins, like folate and folic acid, can be found in leafy, green vegetables, and many cereals are fortified with B vitamins (a great option for vegetarians and vegans). Research has shown that B vitamins can help prevent depression.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D, is crucial to optimal brain functioning and regulating mood. Vitamin D, which many of us get from sunlight, can decrease in the winter causing seasonal depressive disorder.
Living Juices for Better Mental Health
Organic, cold-pressed Living Juices with dark, leafy vegetables can be an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin Bs. Living Juice's Green Vitality made with organic kale, cucumber, lemon, fennel and parsley is a great source of both! Pineapple Punch, made with organic kale, pineapple and apple, is also a great source of omega 3s and vitamin Bs.
This May O2 Living and Living Juice partnered with the JCK Foundation for mental health awareness month. Check out our recipes this month that feature fruits and vegetables rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin Bs, and vitamin D to support positive mental health.