eating right for mental stability

There appears to be compelling evidence that what you consume could affect your mental health.
By Child magazine

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According to The South African Depression and Anxiety Group, 1 in 3 people will experience mental illness in their lifetime and 23 people commit suicide every day. With so many of us affected by mental health issues, it’s vital that we explore positive ways of dealing with the challenges facing parents and children.
 
So, is there a link between nutrition and mental health?
 
A meta-analysis including studies from 10 countries, conducted by researchers at Linyi People's Hospital in Shandong, China, suggests that dietary patterns may contribute to depression. According to a study of 120 children and adolescents – consuming fast food, sugar and soft drinks was associated with a higher prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Led by Maria Izquierdo-Pulido, PharmD, PhD, of the University of Barcelona's department of nutrition, food science and gastronomy – the study also found that children who ate fewer vegetables, fruit, fatty fish and other foods associated with the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have ADHD symptoms.
 
Evidence shows that food plays an important role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
 
 
Depression
 
Although the occasional drink is harmless, heavy alcohol consumption is associated with anxiety and panic attacks. Excessive drinking also depletes serotonin (the happy chemical), leading to an individual becoming prone to anxiety and depression. Caffeinated beverages also increase the risk for anxiety, depression and poor sleep.
 
 
Schizophrenia
 
Correcting blood sugar problems may be a relevant nutritional approach. Addressing essential fat imbalances, increasing antioxidants, B12 and folic acid may also assist. Some people with mental health problems are sensitive to gluten, especially wheat, which can bring on all sorts of symptoms of mental illness.
 
 
ADHD
 
Some food additives have been implicated in behavioural problems, particularly in hyperactive children. Foods rich in protein such as lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products, can have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. The body used protein-rich foods to make neurotransmitters – the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity.
 
 
Alzheimer’s and dementia
 
Foods that protect against Alzheimer’s include green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.
 
“The link between poor mental health and nutritional deficiencies has long been recognised by nutritionists, however, psychiatrists are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits of using nutritional approaches to mental health.
 
Evidence shows that food plays an important role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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