The pleasure of eating junk food is hard to beat. But did you know that an unhealthy diet can worsen anxiety-depressive disorders according to the latest research?
When we think of anxiety, depression-or any other mental health disorders really-the first thing that comes to mind is how our circumstances are the biggest contributors. Next in line of culprits is DNA and genes. And yet, of all the things we link poor mental health with-our eating habits and diet never make it to the list. Because what's food got to do with our mental state right?
Well, turns out that our diet has a bigger role to play in this than we previously thought. We say this, because a new study claims that diet significantly affects our mental health and well-being.
Professor Suzanne Dickson, who is the lead researcher of the study, published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, says, "We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence."
According to the researchers, the link between diet and mental health can be firmly established in certain cases like that of the ability of a ketogenic diet being helpful for children with epilepsy and the impact of vitamin B12 deficiency on poor memory, depression, and fatigue.
"With individual conditions, we often found very mixed evidence. With ADHD for example, we can see an increase in the quantity of refined sugar in the diet seems to increase ADHD and hyperactivity, whereas eating more fresh fruit and vegetables seems to protect against these conditions," says Dickson.
"But there are comparatively few studies, and many of them don't last long enough to show long-term effects," she adds.
Sugar, especially, is criminal for your mental health
Previously, studies have also linked foods high in sugar to depression. Since, eating sugar gives you an instant high, it is also followed by a rapid low-which can worsen symptoms of depression.
In fact, a 2017 study published in BMC medicine also found that when participants exhibiting moderate to severe symptoms of depression ate a healthy diet for 12 weeks, their symptoms improved. More than 30% of the participants in the study reported less severe symptoms of depression and anxiety-thus proving that our food choices do indeed impact our mental health.
The bottom line?
Whether you're stressed, anxious, suffer from depression-or report absolutely no such mental health afflictions-eating a balanced diet with restricted amounts of sugar can have tons of benefits for you.