Can the Foods You Eat Affect Your Mood?

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choosing an appleYou’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat.” Considering the effect drugs or other substances can have on our moods, it seems natural that the types of foods we eat could also contribute to our mental health. Depression and anxiety are two conditions that can be directly affected by the things we eat.

Diet and Mental Health

Diets high in processed foods, fried foods and sweets have been linked to depression. However, diets rich in vitamins B12, D and omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help people elevate and maintain their mood.

Drinking alcohol or caffeine can both create feelings of depression and anxiety. Both can interfere with sleep, lead to mild dehydration and make you feel edgy.

It’s unlikely for diet alone to create problems with depression and anxiety, but an unhealthy diet can certainly exacerbate existing depression and anxiety symptoms.

Eating Healthy

When you eat healthy foods, you are giving your body the basic building blocks it needs to thrive. Foods rich in heavily processed sugars and starches provide calories, but lack many of the basic components your body needs.

Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and fish make up a healthy diet that provides your body with the minerals it needs. If you are managing depression, anxiety or other medical issue, a healthy diet is a crucial component of your treatment plan.

Foods to Avoid

As mentioned, alcohol and caffeine can have a negative effect on your mood for multiple reasons. It also makes sense to avoid foods high in refined sugar, since the “sugar buzz” it gives can worsen anxiety, and the subsequent “sugar crash” make depression symptoms worse.

Magnesium is an important mineral for fighting anxiety. Because acid-forming foods like eggs, pickles, yogurt and wine have been linked to decreased levels of magnesium in a person’s body, consider avoiding them.