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Food & Mood: Research Says They Affect Each Other

Did you know that blueberries can help you cope with the after-effects of trauma? That salami can contribute to depression, or that boosting Vitamin D intake can help treat anxiety?

Most people’s concerns revolve around weight loss, fitness, blood sugar regulation and longevity when they think about food choices and diets to achieve their goals. But what we eat affects more than our bodies; it also impacts our brains. Foods can also boost our immunity, and lowered immunity is linked to levels of depression and anxiety; studies also show a food link to insomnia, dementia and beyond.

The relationship between nutrition and mental health is bidirectional: the foods we eat affect our mental health, and our mental health status affects what and how well we eat. To learn more about how the public views diet and mental health, American Psychiatric Association (APA) conducted a poll between March 16 and 17, 2023, among a sample of 2,200 adults.

  • Two-thirds (66%) of adults surveyed said they feel knowledgeable about the relationship between diet and mental health.
  • Four in five (81%) adults would be willing to change their diet in a way that positively impacts mental health.
  • Four in ten (43%) would be very willing to change their diet to improve mental health.

A growing body of research points to the mental health benefits of a diet that is founded on real food, instead of processed and packaged foods that, while easy to prepare, are filled with multiple chemical ingredients. Studies identified specific benefits in addressing depression, and several studies pointed to the Mediterranean Diet as being most impactful.  

Back in 2019, a review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased fruit and vegetable consumption positively impacts psychological health, and daily vegetable consumption has a therapeutic impact by reducing symptoms of depression in people with clinical depression. A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine webinar presentation highlighting Nutrition and Mental Health reported on how improvements in diet can improve depression. A healthy diet provides more vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, which can reduce inflammation and alter neurotransmitters to reduce symptoms of depression.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a leading cause of ill health and disability around the world. Understanding and managing mental health disorders is a public health challenge. Research continues to grow our understanding of the relationship between nutrition and the mind, and current evidence supports that diet has a role in psychological health.

At Touchstone Acupuncture, we believe that food is medicine, and we support the “food first” strategy as the first line of intervention for healing the body and the mind.  If you are curious about wanting to know more about foods, moods and how you can take action to improve your health and wellness and that of your family, set up a discovery call today and learn how we can help you navigate the next steps of your wellness journey.

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