Nutritional psychiatry may be a term that you’re not familiar with, but it’s quickly growing in popularity. As more and more people suffer from mental health issues, the question arises as to the catalyst. What factors are considered when assessing mental health? Could there be more than one?
Nutritional psychiatry is a quickly growing discipline that focuses particularly on the use of supplements and food to provide the body with essential nutrients. This is done as part of an alternative or integrated treatment for issues with mental health.
As you may have already guessed, though, mainstream medicine hasn’t been particularly warm to the idea of an alternative like nutritional psychiatry. Therefore, treatment options tend to be limited, with the hope that accessibility will grow as more research is done.
What Does a Nutritional Psychologist Do?
Nutritional Psychiatry can be directly linked to health psychology, a branch of psychology that only appeared 50 years ago. Since then, however, it has grown exponentially in popularity, as more research has been done into how diet plays a bigger role in the development of physical and mental illness than we originally thought.
A nutritional psychologist will use various assessments and talk to their clients to work out their day to day dietary habits. They may also even require the client to receive a lab test or two. This is so that the nutritional psychologist can track the dietary lifestyle of the client, and points out areas that need improvement or help.
A nutritional psychologist will also assess diet with mental health in mind, connecting the dots between the two and discussing various physical symptoms the client may be dealing with. The overarching goal is to work closely with clients, educating them on the vital link between diet and mental health.
How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?
There has been a lot of research over the past decade or so into the connection between diet and mental health. A study conducted in 2014 found that feelings of wellbeing were seen in participants who are more vegetables and fruit than those that ate less.
Another study found that a typical Mediterranean diet, which includes staples such as fish, grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and unsaturated fats, led to a decrease in mental health issues such as depression. This was sustained six months after the experiment.
While there is a broad range of factors that contribute to poor mental health in general, diet and nutrition can certainly be considered one of these – and may play a larger role than we initially thought.
What Foods Improve Mental Health?
Like we just talked about, which was proven through a study, the Mediterranean diet seems to be gaining a lot of attention right now for putting people on the right path in terms of their nutrition and how it affects their mental health.
With the Mediterranean diet, you can get your starch fix through legumes and whole grains. For your omega-3 fatty acids, you can focus on salmon instead of red meat, and olive oil for your unsaturated fats. More healthy fats are found in raw nuts.
Naturally, this should be complemented by plenty of vegetables and fruit, and while sweets and wine are okay, they should be enjoyed in moderation.
When it comes to what you should omit, try cutting back on sugary drinks, alcohol, processed foods, and saturated fats. You may also want to consider switching to non-fat or low-fat dairy.
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