How food effects our mental health

As many of us know by now, eating a balanced diet has many benefits for our physical health. But what about our mental health? As research progresses, we see the impact of what we eat has on our overall mental wellness, specifically on depression and anxiety. It’s important to know how food and our moods are related.

Having a well-rounded eating diet can seriously help improve the mood by increasing energy levels and helping your mind think clearer. There are many elements ay play here, from the amount of carbohydrate you digest to the way deficiencies in our vitamins and minerals can affect our health.

What is the importance of Carbohydrates?

For the human brain to concentrate and focus, it needs energy, as 20% of all energy needed by the body is used by the brain itself. Energy comes from blood glucose; the glucose in our blood comes from the carbohydrates we eat. When we lack energy for the brain, we tend to feel weak, tired and lethargic. Eating regular meals containing some carbohydrates will help keep this under control.

It’s important to keep it balanced as rises and falls of your blood glucose can greatly impact your daily anxieties. Foods that release energy levels slowly and good to have has small portions spaced out throughout the day.

List of sources of carbohydrates.

  • Pasta/Rice

  • Wholegrains

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Legumes / Nuts

  • Low-fat dairy

  • Proteins and fats

Proteins and fats

Alongside the energy your brain receives from carbohydrates, your brain also needs amino acids, which helps regulate your thoughts and feelings. Protein is what contains amino acids, which is important to partake in your daily diet. Protein is found in meats, fish, eggs, legumes and soy products, also found in Vegetarian/Vegan substitutes.

What to look out for

  • Skipping meals or missing a meal, especially breakfast, can quickly lead to low blood sugar. Leaving you feeling weak and tired.

  • Cutting out entire food groups. Reducing the variety of foods in your diet makes it more difficult to get your need to intake essential nutrients. Low levels of zinc, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids are known to worsen your mood and decrease energy.

  • Eating too many carbohydrates. Having high intakes of unhealthy, processed carbohydrates, for example, white bread and pastries, will cause blood sugars to rise and fall dramatically. This can lead to low energy and irritability.

Though there is still much to learn about the effects of daily dietary patterns on our mental health, the evidence shows that eating healthier and more nutritious meals can have a protective effect.



If you are worried about your mental health, reach out to your doctor or local practitioner.