The food-mood connection isn’t all in your head. In fact, there’s even a name for it — nutritional psychiatry.
Scientists in the field are actively looking for connections between diet quality and mental disorders to help treat or even prevent these illnesses.
One research review found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish may reduce depression risk, with special emphasis on getting the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Aim for a 3-ounce serving of halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, oysters, sardines, trout or fresh tuna a few times a week.
More Omega-3 Sources
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Other studies have zeroed in on nutrition shortfalls and found a link between depression and deficiencies in vitamin D and the B vitamin folic acid as well as omega-3s.
Folic Acid Sources
- Oranges and grapefruit
- Leafy greens
If you don’t get some daily sun exposure, it can be hard for your body to make the vitamin D it needs. You can get some D in wild salmon, sardines, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified milk. Talk to your doctor about a blood test to measure your level and determine if you also need a supplement.
How to put all these findings together? Following the classic Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk not only of depression and cognitive impairment, but of strokes, too.
Of course, there are limits to how far a good diet can go to prevent or treat mental illnesses, which are very complex conditions. But eating key foods can help give you a welcome mood boost.
The Food Revolution Network has more on these and other nutrients to boost mood and be healthier.
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