Healthy eating for mental well-being
Can we improve our mood through nutrition?
We have always believed that eating foods rich in sugars and fats when we were feeling low, stressed or anxious helped to improve our mood due to the ancient urge to reward ourselves. But today there are also theories that link these foods to the causes of anxiety or depression.
Is it our mood that influences what we eat or do we get that ‘down’ feeling because of what we eat?
Nutritionists claim that no diet cures depression or anxiety, but it does seem that a healthy eating pattern could alleviate the symptoms. The regular consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fermented dairy products, eggs and fish has been gaining popularity thanks to its ability to reduce the symptoms of depression and despondency.
Although dark chocolate consumption has traditionally been attributed with the ability to improve mood, there is no solid evidence to support this practice, although some studies have associated its consumption with the activation of certain brain nuclei responsible for pleasure. There is also no evidence that our mood improves with tryptophan supplements or a higher intake of foods rich in this amino acid, a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with well-being that is found in a wide variety of foods ranging from legumes, fruits, whole grains and their derivatives, to fish, legumes and nuts.
A healthy diet is associated with a better state of health and general well-being, although experts point out that there is no specific diet for mental health. Even so, there are recommendations that could prevent anxiety or depression, such as following the Mediterranean diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and being physically active.