Mind for Life

NUTRITION
THE GOOD FOOD TO PUT YOU IN A GOOD MOOD
 By Nilofar Dorani
 Dietitian (APD), Nutritionist at Mind For Life
Reasons why maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is so important for us
It comes as no surprise that eating well can greatly benefit your physical, mental and social well-being in many different ways. It improves overall body image, nurtures positive brain function, reduces depression, anxiety/stress and boosts your immunity. It also helps to give you a sense of satisfaction of feeling good about yourself.
A study published by Cambridge university in 2015 highlighted that 1 in 8 deaths related to cardiovascular diseases could be avoided by consuming a more healthy diet such as a Mediterranean style diet.1 It showed an improvement in the participants’ overall health including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and also preventing many cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack and stroke. What this shows is that a Mediterranean style diet is typically high in healthy whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts and olive oil, moderate in dairy, fish, poultry and wine, while low in red meats.
This type of diet is similar to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating guidelines, of eating a healthy balanced diet. It outlines that in order to meet our body’s daily energy requirements to keep up with the life’s demands, we need to consume the right type and right amount of energy sources.
The guidelines encourage consumption of a variety of different foods from the major 5 food groups which are:
1. Vegetables and Legumes (Include a Rainbow of colours)
2. Fruits
3. Whole Grains and Cereals (Rice, Barley, Oats, Pasta, Whole Grain Breads
    and Noodles)
4. Proteins (Lean Meat, Poultry, Fish, Nuts, Seeds, Tofu, Legumes and Beans)
5. Low Fat Dairy (Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese, Soy Milk, Almond Milk and Rice Milk)
Our body also requires a limited amount of healthy fat to be consumed daily such as plant-based, unsaturated fat found in olive oil, avocados, sunflower oil, nuts and seeds. These types of fats assists in maintaining our overall health and are proven to lower our bad cholesterol levels. It also mentions avoiding processed and discretionary foods containing sugar, bad fats, salt and many harmful additives and preservatives which are extremely harmful to our health. In fact, they are prone to increasing the risk of certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, bad mood/depression and many other health problems in all age groups.
Diet and Mental Health Benefits
A healthy diet can have beneficial effects on our mental health. Did you know that recent studies have found a direct link between the gut bacteria found in our digestive system (responsible for food fermentation and breakdown to help digestion which lives off healthy foods) and our positive behaviours, moods and healthy brain development?
Healthy foods not only keep us energised and happy, it also gives us that sense of feeling good about ourselves and relaxed. It can also help improve our quality of sleep, which plays an important role in body weight control.
Diet and Social Health Benefits
Eating well can help us feel better physically and improves our body image which in turn reduces the emotional burden we place on ourselves. It can make us more likely to crawl out of our shells to then enjoy social activities and interact with other people. If you are the type who is prone to social anxiety, adopt simple strategies like limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, as they are proven to really interfere with our mental health and can fuel further anxiety symptoms. Instead, stick to an eating pattern that is rich in nutrients, stay hydrated with healthy beverages such as water, low-fat milk, herbal tea but most importantly, try to stay physically active every day for at least 30 minutes.
While a healthy diet alone can vastly improve your general health, it should sit alongside other treatments recommended by your doctor, psychologist and other care providers as well for a total holistic approach.
So make sure you include a variety of foods everyday from the recommended 5 food groups to protect yourself from chronic health conditions and help keep you in a great mood!
1. https://www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/blog/mediterranean-diet-cardiovascular-disease-uk/
2. www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5
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