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Eat Well, Feel Better. the Link Between What We Eat and Our Mental Health

Eat well, feel better.The link between what we eat and our mental health.Table of contents 1 Introduction Page 2 1.

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1 Background information Page 2 1. 2 Aim Page 2 1 Methodology Page 2 2. 3 Primary research Page 2 2. Secondary research Page 2 3 Findings Page 3 3. 1 What is mental illness Page 3 3. 2 The link between food and mental health Page 4 4 Conclusions Page 5 5 Recommendations Page 6 6 Bibliography Page 7 . Introduction 1. 1 Background Information In recent years there has been an increase of mental health problems in our society. According to the Department of Health(2012) one in four adults experience mental illness at some point during their lifetime and one in six experience symptoms of mental illness – thus making it the largest single cause of disability in our society. Many people choose to take control of their mental health by using self-help approaches alongside, or even instead of, prescribed medication and talking therapies.

Making changes to diet and eating habits is just one approach that some people have used to help improve their mental well-being. The links between diet and mental health are less clearly understood than links between diet and physical health. There are some generally accepted trends and pieces of advice than can help when thinking about what you eat and drink. 1. 2 Aim This report is going to outline what mental health is and how it affects people. It is going to research how what you eat affects your mental health and how eating or not eating certain foods can contribute to a person’s mental wellbeing.

It is also going to suggest the types of foods that are good to help maintain mental wellbeing and tell the reader why and how these foods make a person with mental health problems feel. 2. Methodology 2. 1Primary research The time allotted for this report did not allow for any accurate primary research to be done as this would have involved drawing up questionnaires, handing them out to a target group, collecting them in and analysing the findings all of which would be a time consuming task. 2. 2 Secondary Research In the report secondary sources from various websites are the main source of information.

There is limited information in books about this as it is a very current topic and websites such as www. mind. org and www. sustainweb. org have been carrying out research on this subject and have a lot of valuable information. 3. Findings 3. 1 what is mental illness Mental illness is a term used when someone experiences significant changes in their thinking, feelings or behavior. The changes are usually bad enough to affect how the person functions and can cause distress to them or to other people. It may cause Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts, Sleep Deprivation and a general feeling of unease and despair.

A person with a mental illness sees things differently than a person without a mental illness and something simple to a non-sufferer can be life changing to a sufferer and can lead to the illness taking over where it is a downwards spiral in to the depths of depression. This then become a vicious circle of depression leading to the sleep deprivation which in turn leads to anxiety attacks which can then lead to feelings of despair and maybe even suicidal thoughts which then brings the sufferer straight back to the beginning were they are anxious about what might happen next and starts the circle all over gain. 3. 2 Research According to Youngminds(2012) there is increasing evidence of a link between what we eat and how we feel. This is called the ‘food – mood’ connection. How we feel influences what we choose to eat or drink and vice versa – and a healthy diet can help to protect our mental health. Mental health problems are believed to be the result of a combination of factors, including age, genetics and environmental factors. One of the most obvious, yet under-recognised factors in the development of major trends in mental health is the role of nutrition.

Sustain(2010) indicates that a balanced mood and feelings of well-being can be helped by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of certain foods such as foods that contain;- * Complex carbohydrates, Glucose from the carbohydrates we eat provides the brain’s main source of fuel. Without this fuel, we can’t think clearly. Some carbs are better than others. Sugar, white pasta and biscuits will only give you a short burst of energy. You’ll feel tired and grumpy when the sugar high wears off and for someone with mental health issues this could then trigger a series of emotions. . If you eat lots of sugary foods, fizzy drinks and stimulants such as coffee, tea or alcohol, your blood sugar levels go up and down. This can make you irritable, anxious, and dizzy, it can also lead to poor concentration and aggressive behaviour. Complex carbohydrates”, such as wholegrain, beans and vegetables, are a better choice because they give you sustained energy and you don’t get that come down feeling when they wear off. * Essential fats, Essential fats, found mainly in oily fish, seeds and nuts, cannot be made within the body, so we have to get them from food.

Sixty per cent of the brain is made of fat, and the fats we eat directly affect its structure. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to various mental health problems, including depression and lack of concentration. * Amino acids, Proteins found mainly in meat, fish and soya products are broken down in the body to be used as amino acids, which are vital to good mental health. Brain messengers are made in the body from the proteins that we eat. If we don’t get enough amino acids it can lead to feelings of depression, apathy, lack of motivation or tension. * Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins such as b ,c , e and folate along with minerals such as zinc and magnesium which are found in foods such as green leafy vegetables ,eggs ,red meat ,yeasts ,nuts, whole grains and fruits are all good to help combat mental health issues. * Water is also very good. This is also backed up by information given by Youngminds(2012) and sustain(2012). This is, of course, the same type of healthy balanced diet that is widely recommended to reduce our risk of developing coronary heart disease, strokes, a range of cancers, diabetes and a number of digestive disorders and conditions.

The diet that would give us the right amount and balance of these nutrients would contain: * lots of different vegetables and fruit * a wide variety of whole grains, * nuts, seeds and legumes, * and some occasional oily fish, lean meat and dairy products. Mind(2012) says the body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as * depression, schizophrenia, * attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), * Alzheimer’s disease. This is also backed up by sustain(2010) and mentalhealthfoundation(2012). The evidence so far does not show that these conditions can be prevented or cured by diet alone. However, evidence is accumulating that the combination of polyunsaturated fats, minerals and vitamins may help to: •relieve the symptoms of some mental illnesses; •improve the effectiveness of medication for some conditions; and •reduce the unpleasant side-effects of some medications.

Comfort eating is another symptom of mental health issues, eating or drinking the foods that give false highs but also bring that depressed low feeling when the effects of the chemicals released in the brain ware off. Mind(2012) states If you eat lots of sugary foods, fizzy drinks and stimulants such as coffee, tea or alcohol, your blood sugar levels go up and down. This can make you irritable, anxious, and dizzy, It can also lead to poor concentration and aggressive behaviour.

Even with all the information that is out there not many people realise the link between food and mental health. Mentalhealthfeedingminds(2012) states that the role of diet in the nation’s mental health has yet to be fully understood and embraced, and shifts in policy and practice have been slow to materialise. Possible reasons include a lack of awareness of the evidence, scepticism as to its quality and vested interests in other treatments and approaches. 4. Conclusions

The aim of this report was to show the link between food and mental health and to show how certain foods effect how we feel. Whilst researching this topic the author found that there is a definite link between food and mental health although not enough research has been done in this area to allow for an extensive report to be carried out. The websites that have researched this issue are trusted and credible websites but they lack the resources to investigate further or carry out primary research on this matter. 5. Recommendations

A recommendation would be for extensive medical research to be carried out in this area with doctors and nutritionist working together to teach people with mental health issues how to help themselves by maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Also primary research should be done on a target group of people with mental health issues were they keep a food diary of what they eat for a period of time noting how they felt and if there was an improvement on their mental health. References Bibliography * Departmentofhealth. (2012)Mentalhealth. Available from. www. dh. gov. uk. (Accessed02/10/2012). Ispsuk. (2012). What is mental illness and what is mental health? Availablefrom. www. ispsuk. org(2012. Accessed. 04/10/2012 * Mentalhealthintheuk. (2012). Mindguidetofoodandmood. Available from. www. mentalhealthintheuk. co. uk/Mindguidetofood. pdf. Accessed02/10/2012 * Mentalhealthfoundation. (2012). DietandMentalHealth. Availablefromwww. mentalhealth. org. uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/D/diet. 2012. Accessed. 04/10/2012 * Mentalhealthy. (2012). Self-help Depression Availablefrom;www. mentalhealthy. co. uk/lifestyle/mind-food/food-for-good-mental-health. Accessed03. 0. 2012 * Mindforbettermentalhealth. (2012). Mind guide to food and mood. Availablefrom;www. mind. org. uk/help/medical_and_alternative_care/food_and_mood-the_mind_guide. Accessed. 02. 10. 2012. * Sustainweb. (2010). Howarefoodandmentalhealthrelated? Availablefrom;. www. sustainweb. org/foodandmentalhealth. Accessed. 02/10/2012. * Youngminds. (2012). Youngmindsthevoiceofyoungpeoplesmentalhealthandwellbeing. availablefrom;http://www. youngminds. org. uk/for_children_young_people/better_mental_health/look_after_your_body? gclid=CJWfjqiRurMCFUVZ3godwEEAFQ. A ccessed. 02. 10. 2012.

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