Nutrition is considered to be one of the most under-recognised influences on our mental health. The reality is, quality of our diet has a big impact on more than just our physical health. Our mental health is also suffering. How? It’s due to the way certain dietary patterns influence parts of our brain. Studies have shown that what we eat effects the part of the brain that is responsible for learning, memory and mental health. In fact, it effects its size! A good quality diet makes it (the hippocampi) bigger, while poor quality diets result in a smaller hippocampi. When it comes to your food intake, 2 things are clear:
1. Higher intakes of junk and processed food (high sugar, fat, carbohydrates, artificial flavours, etc) increase your risk of poor mental health
2. Low levels of healthy food consumption (vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, lean red meat) also increase your risk of poor mental health.
Nearly two thirds of people who do not report experiencing mental health issues are consuming fresh fruit daily. It's a similar story for fresh vegetables and meals made from scratch. On the other hand, people who eat a lot of 'unhealthy' food such as takeaways, processed foods, chips and chocolate) are reporting some level of poor mental health. Nutrition: it can be a simple change with a big win.
A note on stress: Chronic stress is linked to several chronic inflammatory conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. In fact, employees who report being the most stressed are 60% more likely to have other chronic health risks than those who are least stressed. In addition to this, chronic stress and mental health disorders increase the cost and impact of almost all other health conditions.
Productivity declines an average of 2% for every preventable health risk an employee exhibits.
The good news? Nutrition is an easy win in the fight against poor mental health and stress. Contact us today to discuss the best options for your workplace.
Want to read more on this topic? Check out these articles:
Fast food linked to depression: https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/fast-food-linked-to-depression/
Is fast food making us depressed? http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140826-is-fast-food-making-us-depressed
The strange link between junk food and depression: http://time.com/3939974/sugar-junk-food-depression/