Health & Diet :
Leading medical professionals in Dubai have noticed a direct correlation between sound mental health and diet. Indeed, data suggests that of those people that report mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, less than half have the required intake of daily fruit and vegetables.
These findings are a clear indication of the old cliché, ‘you are what you eat’ and demonstrate that our diet affects how we view ourselves and the world around us.
Now, it’s long been argued that foods such as chocolate release endorphins – giving us a lift in times of low mood. However, this happy feeling is only fleeting, and long term over indulgence of high sugar or fat diets, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, all too common in the Dubai heat leaves people at greater risk of developing, not only physical conditions like diabetes but, mental health problems as well.
What the Experts Say
Dr. Asad Sadiq, consultant psychiatrist at The Lighthouse clinic in Dubai believes that it’s generally accepted that a diet rich in red meat, processed food, or a high-sugar diet has contributed to the rise in diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
However, Dr. Sadiq also firmly believes that the wealth of evidence theorizing that poor physical health directly contributes to a decline in psychological well-being is hard to ignore – with cases of depression and anxiety diagnoses becoming increasingly commonplace.
He goes on to state that a poor diet can be both one cause of, and direct symptom of a decline in psychological well-being with many patients increasing turning to sugar-rich diets for psychological comfort that only serve to exacerbate any depression as anxiety as your physical health therefore suffers.
Medical Study Findings
Research into the obvious correlation between diet and psychological well-being has discovered that almost two thirds of people who do not report any mental health problems regularly consume the daily allowance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Of those that seek medical help for a mental health disorder, less than 50% have a diet rich in the six food groups that are essential to a balanced diet.
Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, the deputy director of the Mental Health Foundation in the UK believes that nutrition is the most obvious, and under recognized factors in developing mental health trends.
Vitamin D Deficiencies
Further medical studies have found that a vitamin D deficiency has a significant impact on psychological well-being. Documented issues have included cognitive impairment, depression, even bipolar disorder – with symptoms potentially being inflated in childhood and adolescence as the brain is developing.
A vitamin D-rich diet has been proven to contribute to improved mental health. Foods such as orange juice, salmon, tuna and mackerel aid the body’s natural production of vitamin D which can boost both emotional and physical well-being, especially for individuals that have been deprived of sun exposure.
Omega 3 Acids
Found in fish and fish oil, Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to contribute to reduce the symptoms of psychosis. Mental health patients suffering from schizophrenia are often advised to modify their diet to help to moderate symptoms.
Especially effective in patients between the ages of 13-25, Omega 3 acids also improve cognitive function and learning, and can prevent heart disease. Leading medical professionals advise two portions of fish every week as part of a balanced diet for everyone.
With the weight of medical research, what cannot be ignored is that there is a direct correlation between diet and psychological health. Regardless of whether individuals suffer from depression, anxiety, or another psychological disorder, diet alongside appropriate medical guidance and treatment can contribute much to sound emotional health.
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