#FoodForThought: How your diet can affect your mental health

Smrithi Mohan
Jul 03, 2023 07:40 IST
#FoodForThought: How your diet can affect your mental health

Chef Akanksha Khatri and Chef Poonam Bindra share some food for thought on diets that will positively affect your mental health.

There is an unexplainable connection between food and a person's mood. It's not necessary for one to know the science behind food lifting your mood, the need to satisfy our need and make our day better is enough. But researches and studies over the years and been able to find a connection to it. It is always advised for people to choose a healthy diet in order to improve not just their physical health but also their mental health. Chefs Akanksha Khatri and Poonam Bindra share their food for thought on share diets that will positively effect your mental health.


Also Read: Is social media destigmatizing mental health or making it worse? We asked mental health professionals to understand its impact!

But do you know that how important food is for our mental health? Here's how!

Chef Poonam Bindra says, "Eating healthy and staying fit is all everyone is looking forward now a days. This is also why we start our own meal plans and decide for ourselves that we are eating right. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and making us feel more alert. It can also improve concentration and attention span. Conversely, an inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, impaired decision-making, and can slow down reaction time."

Water: One of the most important things for our body and also our brain, water not only affects the energy level but at the same time also affects the mood and also the ability to concentrate. That's why its always recommended to stay hydrated throughout the day .

Grains: Include more whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet since they contain the vitamins and minerals that your brain and body need to stay well. Include some protein with every meal. It contains amino acid that your brain uses to help regulate your mood. Skipping meals or not eating at intervals also affects the complete body cycle. Eating regularly can stop your blood sugar level from dropping, which makes you feel tired and bad-tempered.

Fats for Brain: Eat the right balance of fats. Your brain needs healthy fats to keep working well. They’re found in things such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados, milk and eggs. Avoid trans fats – often found in processed or packaged foods – as they can be bad for your mood and your heart health. Choose right amount of fats that keeps your mind and body healthy.

Gut System : Look after your gut health. Your gut can reflect how you’re feeling: it can speed up or slow down if you're stressed. Healthy food for your gut includes fruit, vegetables, beans and probiotics.

Be aware of how caffeine can affect your mood. It can cause sleep problems, especially if you drink it close to bedtime, and some people find it makes them irritable and anxious too. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate. So avoid caffeine at bed time.


In frame: Chef Akanksha Khatri

Chef Akanksha Khatri

The brain is a complex organ that requires a variety of nutrients to function properly. When we don't get enough of these nutrients, our mental health can suffer. For example, research has shown that low levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, are associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. On the other hand, a healthy and balanced diet can provide the nutrients our brains need to function at their best. For example, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds, have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve mood. Similarly, foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries and dark chocolate, can help protect our brains from oxidative stress and promote cognitive function.

In addition to providing essential nutrients, the foods we eat can also affect our gut health, which in turn can impact our mental health. The gut-brain axis is a complex communication system between our gut and our brain, and research has shown that disruptions in this system can contribute to mental health issues. Eating a diet that is rich in fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics can help promote a healthy gut microbiome and improve mental health.

Best foods for mental health

Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve mood and reduce the risk of depression.

Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are all rich in omega-3s and other essential nutrients.

Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are rich in folate, a B-vitamin that has been shown to reduce the risk of depression.

Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries are rich in antioxidants and have been shown to improve cognitive function.

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which have been shown to improve mood and reduce stress.

Fermented foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which can help promote a healthy gut microbiome.


Our diet plays a crucial role in our mental health, and making small changes to what we eat can have a big impact. By including more nutrient-rich foods in our diet, such as fatty fish, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, berries, dark chocolate, and fermented foods, we can support our brain health and improve our mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being. So next time you're feeling stressed or anxious, reach for a healthy snack and give your brain the nutrients it needs to thrive.

What is your go to when it comes to comfort food? Let us know in the comments below.

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