In today’s time, we come across many people who give importance to physical fitness. They work out regularly to maintain a healthy body but are unaware of the connection between a balanced diet and mental health. (Image: DC)
“Healthy food for a healthy lifestyle.” One must concentrate on eating a balanced diet that will give the body all the nutrients it needs for growth, maintenance, and immunity-building. But along with bodily well-being, it is equally important to concentrate on mental health.
In today’s time, we come across many people who give importance to physical fitness. They work out regularly to maintain a healthy body but are unaware of the connection between a balanced diet and mental health. In recent years, the relationships between nutrition and mental health have gained considerable interest.
Without including mental health, the concept of fitness is incomplete. Regarding the prevailing mental health problems, India is at a critical stage. According to the most recent NCRB study, suicide deaths have grown by 7.2% since 2020, directly reflecting the general lack of mental health in the population. Therefore, we must take note of the prevailing situation to address mental health issues using various strategies.
Nutrition & food also play a significant role in this regard.
Three key factors—emotional, psychological, and social well-being—are essential to maintain good mental health. Today, phrases like stress, anxiety, and mental pressure are used far too frequently by everyone, from school-age children to seniors. Be it the pressure to perform well at school, work, or any other area. These elements have an impact on the person’s general health as well as his mental state. Sports, yoga, and exercise are some approaches, but each must be combined with a simple but essential element: a nutritious, well-balanced diet. It gives the brain the nourishment it requires. It keeps the human mind stable and gives it energy. Additionally, it improves memory, which is essential in our daily life.
So, the question arises, what kind of diet should we follow to maintain mental health? All the essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial for the development of the human body are present in nutrient-rich foods. However, you might think about ingesting some foods for mental wellness. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. are included. The following foods should be a part of your diet if you want a strong and healthy mind.
Green leafy vegetable: Because of their nutritional significance, dieticians and nutritionists constantly advise including green leafy vegetables in our diet. Green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants, dietary fibers, minerals, α-linoleic acid, and vitamins. Vegetables with leafy greens are a good source of vitamin K. Studies have demonstrated that Vitamin K can help prevent the development of anxiety and depression.
Fruits and berries: Consuming fruits and berries can help in enhancing brain function. Both memory and anti-ageing processes can improve by it. Studies have shown that fruit eaters are more likely to report higher levels of mental wellness and are less likely to experience depressive symptoms than non-fruit eaters. Fruits and berries are also rich sources of antioxidants.
Fish: Omega-3 fats is rich in fish. These lipids are crucial for the brain, and these fats must come from the diet because the human body cannot manufacture them. Epidemiological studies show a link between poor dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and depression. Seafood such as oily fish and fish supplements are excellent sources of Omega-3.
Nuts: Almonds and walnuts are excellent for improving mental well-being, and walnuts also contain Omega 3 fats, just like fatty fish. On the other hand, Almonds are a good source of vitamin E and may support memory enhancement.
These are a few foods that are quite accessible to us. For a healthy mind, we must incorporate them into our diet. Remember, an unhealthy mind, even with a healthy body, will ultimately mean poor overall health.
By Samantha Clayton, Vice President, Sports Performance and Fitness Education, Herbalife
Exercise can also have a major impact on mental health
Exercising can be absolutely awful. However, none of our excuses matter when it comes to the health benefits. The benefits go beyond physical health —exercise also has a major impact on mental health.
We find that people who are in better shape fill fewer prescriptions for anxiety and depression medications.”
Linda Ernstsen, senior author of the article and associate professor from the Department of Public Health and Nursing at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
The research group based its work on the Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT). Since 1984, 250,000 Trøndelag residents have voluntarily contributed their health data to this comprehensive research project. The data are available to researchers, who can use the data to estimate people’s fitness levels, among other things.
The figures were taken from the third data collection round, called HUNT3, which was conducted from 2006 to 2008.
The research group compared the data from HUNT3 with data from the Norwegian Prescribed Drug Registry, which provides an overview of medications that have been dispensed in Norway.
Reduces the need for medication”Being in better physical shape appears to reduce the need for anxiolytic drugs and antidepressants,” Ernstsen said.
In a previous study, Ernstsen and her co-authors found that people who were in good physical shape during the second HUNT study had a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms when they were participants in HUNT3 ten years later. However, at the time, the researchers found no correlation between good physical shape and anxiety.
But the new study design, which allows the researchers to look at what kinds of medication HUNT3 participants obtained from pharmacies as late as 2018, allowed the researchers to find the correlation.
However, the study does have a theoretical catch. The researchers can only see what kinds of medication were dispensed to people by pharmacies. They cannot see whether people actually took the medication -; there’s no way to monitor people at their medicine cabinets.
“Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that people who are prescribed medication have more symptoms than those who do not see a doctor,” according to first author Audun Havnen, an associate professor at the Department of Psychology at NTNU.
Greatest effect for men and young peopleBeing in good physical shape helps all age groups and both genders. However, some people get greater benefits from exercise and being in good physical shape than others.
“We find that men experience a greater effect from exercise than women. The correlations are also less clear for the elderly,” Ernstsen says.
But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important for women and the elderly to exercise.
What came first?We can, of course, ask what triggers what. Is it actually the case that good physical health helps prevent anxiety and depression? Or is it the case that people who suffer from anxiety and depression exercise less and are therefore in poorer shape?
In order to not include anyone who was already experiencing anxiety or depression at the start of the study, the researchers excluded anyone who had filled prescriptions for these conditions before participating in HUNT3, as well as for three months afterwards.
“We also adjusted for symptoms of anxiety and depression in statistical analyses. To the extent that the figures can be believed, we also feel fairly confident that we started with a relatively anxiety and depression-free cohort in HUNT3,” Ernstsen said.
In other words, the subjects were unlikely to have suffered from anxiety or depression beforehand.
Unfortunately there are no shortcuts for people who can’t be bothered to exercise. We simply have to get started -; unless we decide to give up. But is there really no other alternative?
“The results indicate that you can achieve a protective effect by improving your physical shape from poor to moderate, so any activity is beneficial,” Havnen says.
You should be physically active in a way that leaves you breathless and sweaty if you want to improve or maintain your physical condition. The Norwegian health authorities recommend that adults be physically active for at least 150 to 300 minutes at moderate intensity each week.
However, one option for people who are short on time is to aim for 75 minutes of high-intensity training each week or a combination of moderate and high-intensity training.
“Research reinforces the finding that each minute of physical activity counts,” Ernstsen said.
Havnen, A., et al. (2023) Cardiorespiratory fitness and incident use of anxiolytics and antidepressants in adults. A linkage study between HUNT and the Norwegian Prescription Database. Journal of Affective Disorders. doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2023.07.029.
Kids should take control of their own physical and mental health, doctors say
Empowering kids to take control of their own health
Empowering kids to take control of their own health 02:09NEW YORK — Did you get enough sleep? Did you eat your vegetables? Those are just two of the many questions parents ask their kids about their health.
But experts tell CBS New York’s John Dias, as the new school year quickly approaches, parents should be reminded their kids should be taking ownership over their own health, both mental and physical.
“The very best thing that you can do for your kid’s health in the future is to get them involved in their own health care,” said Susannah Hills, pediatric airway surgeon at Columbia University. “Developing healthy habits early on is incredibly important.”
Hills says when kids put their own health first, they’ll see a significant difference.
A healthier, prolonged lifestyle they created on their own could lead to:
- More energy
- Health weight
- Avoid illness
- More self-esteem
“Getting them to think about what they’re putting in their bodies in terms of nutrition, getting them to thinking about using their bodies and how important exercise is,” said Hills.
One of the more important things experts stress is making sure kids are comfortable being alone with their doctors and not relying on parents or guardians to take charge.