We talk a great deal about the benefits of exercise when it comes to mental health, and rightfully so.
A number of studies, including one by Harvard Medical School, have found that exercise is as effective as medication for treating depression.
But Nutritionist Melissa Brunetti, who specialises in the connection between food and mental health, says that diet is also an overlooked treatment for depression.
What we eat, Brunetti told Quartz, “can have a huge impact on people’s mental health.
“Nutrients are needed to fuel our brain. If we’re not getting the nutrients in through diet, then we don’t have the nutrients to formulate our neurotransmitters, our neurochemicals, or regulate our blood sugar or hormones.”
But with what is often conflicting diet advice, what are we actually meant to eat?
Studies have found that Omega-3, B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals including zinc and iron, are all beneficial to our mental health.
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A study published by BMC Medicine in 2015, involving more than 15,000 participants, found that adhering to a Mediterranean diet lowers ones risk of depression. Olive oil and leafy vegetables are full of vital nutrients.
Brunetti puts it simply: The best thing you can eat for breakfast if you suffer from depression, is eggs on grain toast with avocado.
Eggs are full of important amino acids, Omega-3 and fatty acids, which is vital given our brains are made up of 60 per cent fat. Avocado is rich in a nutrient called tryptophan, which directly stimulates serotonin, the chemical responsible for regulating our mood.
Brunetti adds that regulating blood sugar is also really important for anyone who has depression, because it avoids the sensation of ‘crashing’.
Her advice is to ensure you eat three good meals a day, with snacks in between.
And there’s another food containing trypyophan that is very important.
Maybe it’s not the best breakfast food, but it’s something we can eat guilt free. After all, we’re just trying to look after our mental health.