Good mood foods improve good feelings and thinking process due to the residues from chemicals, fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides plus environmental toxins. So those with a history of mental health problems can benefit from good food. The Kellogg brothers originally noticed diet deficiencies affecting mental well being so introduced multivitamin cereals to help eat better. Others diagnosed with ADHD nine years ago, and with OCD, and a generalised anxiety and SPOV ( intense phobia of vomiting) in 2016 were helped to change diet too. Panic attacks was dishearteningly regular feature in a life of one man who recently changed his diet as living proof of good mood foods. By actively seek out anything that could make life easier, heard there was a relationship between mood and food. So intrigued, gained from these benefits of knowing diet affects physical health, in bad ways and good. Fast foods can increase your risk of heart disease, while omega-3, found in nuts and oily fish, can boost heart health. There is growing evidence that what we eat affects our mental health, too. Two of my favourite foods doughnuts and muffins are among the baddies. One study found eating mass-produced baked goods affects the risk of developing depression. Others showed increasing levels of zinc in the diet can actually treat depression.
But I started taking the idea seriously when I discovered that Jenny Edwards CBE, the Chief Exec at the Mental Health Foundation, planning series of lectures on the subject. “We’re planning to explore the facts and bust the myths around nutrition and other lifestyle factors in mental health she says. “There’s a growing evidence base showing that a good diet not only impacts on our physical health, but our mental health too.”I’d noticed this myself. Everyone has weeks that include more cheesy chips, chocolate and fast food than is generally advisable. For me, those weeks are ones of lethargy. One of the ways my ADHD manifests itself is I find it difficult to sit and do nothing. But, when I eat badly, I feel exhausted, with little desire to do anything other than plank my own bed. Not only that, but I’ve noticed that after few days of eating junk food, intrusive thoughts synonymous with OCD I worked hard to overcome in therapy starts to re-appear.
Julia Rucklidge, a professor of clinical psychology at University of Canterbury, New Zealand, has spent the majority of her researching life investigating the role of nutrition in mental health. Julia’s work has predominantly revolved around micronutrients. “They are vitamins B, C, D and E,” she explains minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium. Magnesium, for example, is great for helping people with sleep problems.” According to Professor Rucklidge, it’s not about “one magic food or one magic nutrient it’s combination of nutrients that seems to improve mental wellbeing. Julia believes optimal diet for improving mental health would see a reduction in processed foods, including takeaways, sugary drinks, refined grains and refined sugars. She suggests “moving towards Mediterranean-style diet, where you’re eating fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, fish.” This is echoed by Sarah Owen, specialist dietitian working in mental health, who believes in a poor mental health can be exacerbated by modern diets, where we’re “eating less fruit and vegetables and having fewer home-cooked meals” than in decades past. I decided to have a ‘healthy’ week, avoiding all processed foods, to see how I felt. I stocked up on vegetables, unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, arrived in office each day with prepared Tupperware container of nutritious salads.
Therefore by day three there was already a substantial difference in my mood. I was waking up before my alarm, my energy levels were steadier, and I felt productive. I made sure I ate fish for omega-3, potatoes and pasta for carbohydrates, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, a little plain dark chocolate this was supposed to be balanced, after all). By the end of the week was grateful chocolate birthday cake was passed around the office. But I was struck by how much better I felt. The World Health Organization says by 2020, depression will be second leading cause of world disability. No one is claiming mental health issues can be solved solely by changing diets. Jenny Edwards raises concerns about some advice already available. There’s a lot of dubious content online she says. “Any advice given has to be based on facts but it’s a step in the right direction. The Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 says do not be anxious, panic about anything but in everything by prayer supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE OF GOD, which surpasses all human understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.