Can Nutrition treat Teen Mental Health?

It has long been established that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can trim our waistline and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. There is now a growing body of research that suggests that certain nutrients can influence our mental health and emotions and increase our overall sense of well-being.

How Nutrients Affects Our Mental Health

According to a study in 2013, people who consumed a diet rich in fresh produce, legumes, and fish had a 25-35% lower risk of depression. Another research study noted that teenagers, who consumed a diet poor in healthy whole foods had an 80% higher risk of depression. Since 95% of serotonin, our happy hormone, is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, it is no wonder what goes in our gut plays an important role in how we feel.

Micronutrients such as vitamin B and D, folic acid, omega-3s, magnesium, and tryptophan have been well studied and have a profound effect on mental health. Nutrition experts urge that how we eat is as important as what we eat.

Green fingers can lead you to happiness

Gardening is a great physical activity, but new research studies as well as our annual checkups are showing that a little kitchen garden can lower stress and anxiety, reduce the risk of depression and improve your overall outlook on life. So growing your own food can help you feel better not only through the produce but also through the process of growing and harvesting it. Researchers attribute this to bacteria in soil that is linked to stress resilience. Also, getting teens involved in gardening can provide much needed physical activity and some time away from their usual activities.

Cooking your way to joy

Cooking your own food has been linked to enhancing a person’s sense of joy. Teenagers who cook or help in the kitchen experience greater bonding and feelings of closeness with the added benefit of the “helper’s high.” A recent study in the Journal of Positive Psychology reported a direct relationship between time spent on creative activities such as cooking and feelings of positivity or joy.

Mindful munching

Taking the time to savor your food enhances well-being. Mindful eating helps you appreciate your food and enhances feelings of gratefulness. Being grateful alone has a huge impact on our perspective on life and the world. There are research studies that go as far as saying that meditation can be as powerful as antidepressants.

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