Role of nutrition in improving mental health
Billal Hossen || risingbd.com
Health is the state of being illness or disease-free. It comprises of two sections namely physical health which is related to the wellbeing of the human body and the other is mental health which is solely related to the wellness of mind and brain.
To keep physical health in optimum condition we need to eat a balanced diet rich in all six nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein, lipid, vitamin, minerals and water.
On the other hand, to keep mental health in a balanced state we must eat nutritious food as much as possible to accelerate the function of the brain as it is working hard by 24/7. Your brain needs a constant supply of fuel to keep up its functioning. The fuel comes from what you eat. Simply, the food you eat directly affects your brain function and ultimately your mood or mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “about one billion people have a mental disorder and they tend to die 10-20 years earlier than the general population”.
In another study WHO revealed that “In every 40 seconds one person losing their lives by committing suicide and it is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-19 years”.
The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects the mental health of all people of all ages. The suicide case surges very rapidly amid pandemic. In Bangladesh, the suicide case amid pandemic was higher than other time.
Keeping mental health at its optimum is in our hand. We can easily keep ourselves stress-free by leading a healthy lifestyle most importantly by eating nutritious food. Nutritious food is the prerequisite to good health and wellbeing.
The way we lead our life at the present time is not good at all and also we have transformed our dietary habits from traditional diet to western pattern diet. The dietary transition has a great effect on the mood or brain.
If you eat high-quality foods that contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, it will nourish your brain and will protect from oxidative stress which is an important cause of the mental disorder. On the other hand, if you eat low-quality foods such as foods rich in sugar, salt, extra oil, saturated fat and processed food, it will hamper brain function by triggering oxidative stress in the body.
This low quality or ultra-processed food badly fueled depression. In a nutshell, if your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, free radicals species will damage the brain cell and tissue as well, further contributing to brain tissue injury. Now, it’s time to give up the bad dietary habits and try to catch up the good dietary habit.
What should you eat to keep your mental health optimum?
There are some foods that you may include in your daily diet. Hope it will help you to improve your mental health. They are as follows-
• Avoid refined food or fast food and try to eat whole foods such as whole brown rice, whole wheat atta and so on. Eating whole foods will deliver fiber and some necessary nutrients to your body which is important to keep your brain functioning
• Avoid ultra-processed food. Choose homemade food or fermented food such as yogurt or cheese.
• Eat fresh vegetables and fruits as much as possible because it is rich in phytonutrients which is necessary to neutralize free radicals in our body.
• Try to eat probiotics rich food without added sugar
• Reduce sugar intake and choose brown sugar, Brown sugar is healthier as compared to white sugar.
• Eat sea foods especially sea fish as much as you can and avoid red meat and other fatty meat.
• Add colorful fruits and vegetable in your diet.
• Drink plenty of water every day.
Now, it is clear to us that nutrition has a great role in improving mental health and wellbeing. So it is our responsibility to eat nutritious food to keep ourselves healthy and disease-free.
(Billal Hossen is currently studying Applied Nutrition and Food Technology at Islamic University)