There are several possible ways that mental illnesses like anxiety, depression and bipolar can be affected by dietary factors.
Inflammation has been shown to play a significant role in the development of depression and other mental health problems. Chronic inflammation can affect anyone, and is associated with lifestyle factors including stress, smoking, weight gain, sleep deprivation and diet.
Fish is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that it works as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s high omega 3 content is one of the reasons it has been shown to improve the efficacy of anti-depressants. (Heights has all the benefits of omega 3 fish oil, in a vegan friendly form, from algae, where fish get their source from, making it more environmentally sustainable!)
Oxidative stress is shown to be higher in patients with depression, and to add insult to injury, people with depression are also less able to tolerate oxidative stress during acute episodes.
To combat the negative effects of oxidative stress, the body needs to consume plenty of antioxidants like those found in vitamins E and C. The best way to obtain antioxidants through your diet is by eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and/or supplementation.
Neurogenesis, also known as brain plasticity, is the process of generating new connections between brain cells and is essential for learning, memory and mood regulation, essentially, your brain’s ability to grow and change throughout your life.
There are proven links between cognition and mood to neurogenesis occurring in the adult hippocampus. Therefore, an alteration in the brain’s neuroplastic function can be associated with mental illness.
To manage neurogenesis, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) as well as other neurotrophins (e.g. bcl-2 and vascular endo-thelial growth factor) need to be at an optimal level. A diet high in carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables has been shown to improve BDNF levels, and food with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and nutrients such as fatty acids, polyphenols, l-theanine and vitamin E, can also help to stimulate neurogenesis. (Yep, they’re all in Heights.)