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Exploring the link between nutrition and mental wellbeing.

“Eating healthy food fills your body with energy and nutrients. Imagine your cells smiling back at you and saying: ‘Thank you!” Karen Salmansohn, Author and Designer

There is a proven link between eating healthily, nutrition and positive mental wellbeing. It suggests that certain foods can positively or negatively impact our mood and behaviour, help us reduce stress and increase our cognitive function. For these reasons, we should be aware of what we are eating. A balanced diet includes eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, which provide us with vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Tomato, chili and red hear
Image by Iren.

Week commencing 10 June is Healthy Eating Week and a great reminder for us all on the importance of eating well to maintain a positive wellbeing. Some studies also suggest that what we eat, and drink can impact how we feel. Mind recently shared an interesting article that explores this topic a little further. Eating a balanced diet is always a good place to start but if we are still struggling with our mental wellbeing or reduced energy it can sometimes be difficult to change our habits or maintain them. We all react differently to things in our diet, but some key things to remember are:

  1. To eat a balanced diet with as many fruits and vegetables as possible, the recommendation is to eat at least seven different fruits and vegetables each day.

  2. Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water, the recommended average amount of water an adult should consume is about 3.7 litres for a man and 2.7 litres for a woman per day.

  3. Limit the amount of caffeine you consume through tea, coffee, and fizzy drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant that, when consumed before bedtime, can impact your sleep quality.

  4. Eat plenty of protein. Protein contains amino acids that your brain needs to produce chemicals called neurotransmitters, which can help regulate your thoughts and feelings.

  5. Eat plenty of healthy fats such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 to keep your brain working well.

If you are concerned about your mental or general wellbeing, it is important to speak with your GP so they can explore in detail what is going on. There are some vitamins to be mindful of that may also affect how we feel, especially as we get older:

Iron is an important mineral that our body relies upon for growth and development. It also uses iron to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, boost the immune system, and aid cognitive function. If you are low in iron, your skin may be pale or have a yellow tint, and you may feel unexplainably tired or lack energy. Foods that are higher in iron include red meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, and leafy green vegetables.

Magnesium helps us maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, and encourages good sleep. People who are low in magnesium may experience high blood pressure, headaches, cramping, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Foods that are higher in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, nuts, spinach, peanut butter and salmon.

Vitamin B is important for ensuring the body’s cells function properly. It can help the body convert food into energy and maintain healthy skin, brain and other body tissue. A lack of vitamin B can leave us feeling tired, anxious and lacking energy. Foods with higher vitamin B content include peas, bananas, oranges, wholegrain bread and cereals.

Vitamin C is the nutrient your body needs to aid the body’s healing process, form blood vessels and help to create strength in bones, cartilage, and muscles. Signs that you may lack vitamin C include dry hair or skin, flu-like symptoms and a tendency to bruise easily. Foods with higher Vitamin C include citrus fruit (oranges, lemons and limes), peppers, strawberries, broccoli, potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin D helps to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy, and it can encourage better sleep. Signs that you may be lacking in vitamin D include fatigue, depressive symptoms, and hair loss. Foods that are higher in Vitamin D include oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, red meat, eggs, and some fortified foods, such as breakfast cereal.

Zinc helps us to build our immune systems, fighting off viruses and infections. Symptoms of a lack of Zinc may include changes to the skin, hair loss, infections or wounds that take a long time to heal. Foods that are higher in Zinc include seafood, red meat, poultry, and nuts.

Above, we highlight some of the vitamins and minerals to look out for to maintain our wellbeing. We also wanted to share a guest blog from nutritionist and best-selling author Jenny Tschiesche, where she explains in greater detail some foods that can help us combat stress. Click HERE to see what Jenny has to say.

Don’t forget that if you are worried about any elements of your health, it is important to speak with your GP, who will guide you on the best way forward.

Alongside the physical benefits of eating a balanced diet and the impact of particular vitamins and minerals, eating mindfully and listening to our body can also help you feel better. You don’t have to make big changes but try to:

  1. Eat regularly to maintain your blood sugar levels, which can help prevent you from feeling tired or bad-tempered.

  2. Plan ahead. Creating meals for the freezer or store cupboard can not only help if you are not feeling your best, but with tight budgets, can also help you to be cost-efficient.

  3. The act of preparing fresh food can help to boost our mood. Just the simple act of enjoying the process of eating can help release dopamine and provide a sense of purpose.

  4. Learning. We know that continuing to learn is one of our key pillars of wellbeing; not only does it challenge us by teaching us a new skill, but it can also help give us a feeling of accomplishment.

  5. Eat mindfully and taking time away from the desk during the working day can help us reset and refocus when things get busy at work.

  6. Being social. Eating with others is another one of our well-being pillars, and it has many benefits. This ritual allows you to reflect on your day and connect with others.

In Summary

We provide a wide range of wellbeing training solutions from webinars and workshops to drop-in clinics, that all support our team’s workplace mental wellbeing. To see how we can bring greater wellbeing into your workplace, please get in touch to discover more.


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