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Nutrition in mental health

19 June 2017

Nutrition and dietetics Mental health
Nutrition is an extremely important part of physical health which has a profound impact on your mental health.

The burden of a physical disease, disability or symptoms can have stressful consequences that effect your mental health and can cause depression, anxiety or a sense that control has been lost.

A well-balanced, healthy diet is linked to the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease.

It is also important for short-term health issues such as the maintenance of good energy levels, alertness and concentration as well as gut health and prevention of symptoms associated with allergies or intolerances.

Australian research

In Australia the field of specific nutrition in mental health is still undergoing research.

Presently there are a few studies on nutrition based interventions that have shown a positive impact of omega fatty acids, folate and magnesium in the treatment of depression.

Currently though the key focus is the quality of the overall diet.

Your mental health can also impact your nutrition

Your daily nutritional intake can also be affected by your mental health. Day-to-day mental health can strongly impact on appetite and may cause under or over eating.

Some people with mental illness can become anxious about food and restrict food groups unnecessarily.

Some psychotropic medications can also impact on appetite, weight, glycaemic control, blood lipids and the risk of metabolic syndrome. This can therefore affect your nutritional requirements.

For these reasons it is important that if you are experiencing mental health illness, that you have support and guidance on healthy eating to ensure a well-balanced diet that is not excessive but also not restrictive.

It is important to eat a variety of foods to ensure all your micronutrient and macronutrient needs are met.

About the author

Cassie is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who recently joined St John of God Health Care at Burwood and Richmond supporting the physical health of patients at both hospitals.Before joining the hospitals, Cassie has spent the past three years working with adults with mild-severe developmental disabilities in specialist support living centres across Westmead, Rydalmere and North Ryde.Alongside this she has also been working as a private practise dietitian visiting community group homes for the nutritional management of individuals with developmental disability and traumatic brain injury.