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The Importance of Nutrition for Your Mental Health

Breathing techniques and talk therapy are all popular ways for those seeking to relieve anxious thoughts. However, what if we told you that the food you consume can also play a major role in both your physical and mental well-being?

Although further research is warranted to explore the effects of nutrition on reducing symptoms of anxiety, take a look below to see those trends of current public interest.  

 Eating fruit & veg

Although it is recommended you get 5 a day of fruit and veg, individuals should try to consume as much as possible in every meal (around 50% of your plate). Fruit and vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates, as well as many vitamins and minerals with various roles in the body e.g., energy, immunity, physical structures, muscle, and central nervous functions (ACSM, 2016). With this, there is unsurprisingly a lot of evidence surrounding the impact of high fruit and veg intake on an individual’s well-being. A 2019 longitudinal UK study found that mental well-being responds in a dose-response fashion to increases in both the quantity and frequency of fruit and vegetables consumed (Ocean, Howley & Ensor, 2019). Similarly, a 2020 systematic review found that a high total intake of fruits and vegetables may promote higher levels of self-efficacy and optimism, as well as reduce the level of psychological distress. With this, although results should be taken with caution due to self-reported measures, various methodologies used, and an ability to depict a cause and effect between factors, the potential effect of fruit and veg intake on an individual’s mental health means the ‘5-a day’ should be further promoted, along with its other physical benefits (Glabska et al, 2020).


The biological functions of magnesium (Mg) are broad and include the production of nucleic acids, ATP fuelled reactions, and modulation of any calcium concentration fluxes (Topf & Murray, 2003). Mg also plays a key role in the activity of ‘psychoneuroendocrine’ systems, which has led many researchers to look into the effect of Mg supplementation on subjective depressive and anxiety-related states. A recent 2017 systematic review has found suggestive, but inconclusive support that Mg intake offers positive effects on anxiety outcomes. In addition, no clear dose effect has emerged from the reviewed studies either, meaning further work is required to see what the best dose of Mg is when looking to treat anxiety-related symptoms. Further investigation is therefore merited (Boyle, Lawton & Dye, 2017).


Chamomile is one of the most widely used herbal remedies in the world and had been recommended for a variety of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and healing applications. Unsurprisingly, there is currently a scarce amount of research looking into the therapeutic effects of the herb, and its effect on various anxiety disorders (Mao et al, 2017). Recent results from controlled clinical trials show that it may have modest anxiolytic activity in individuals with mild to moderate generalised anxiety disorder, but results are still contradictory. There is a need for continued efforts that focuses on the effects of chamomile on reducing the severity of anxiety disorders using both subjective and non-subjective scales, as well as other potential benefits (Amsterdam et al, 2009).

Omega 3

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutrients in neuronal cell function and neurotransmission, as well as inflammatory responses. With this, researchers have begun to question whether regular omega-3 consumption can protect against psychiatric disorders, due to their possible effect on the modulation of the communication of brain neurons. Recent studies, in particular systematic reviews, have found that high dosages of Omega-3 PUFAs may help to reduce symptoms of clinical anxiety when compared to control sub-groups, although more consolidating research is required (Su et al, 2018). Other recent studies have suggested a long-term approach to be more effective when compared to the treatment of acute episodes, as well as higher dosages to be more effective in treating symptoms. The use of Omega-3 as a therapeutic is therefore, although still in its infancy, a promising treatment. In addition to this, their favourable safety profile, ease of administration, and low treatment costs are equally as promising (Natacci et al, 2018).

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