Imagine Health

Nutrition and Well-Being

Nutrition and Well-Being

We are all aware of the benefits of good nutrition and physical health. It improves heart health, reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers, but what about taking care of the mind? Do those extra chocolate bars and lack of vegetables in your diet have an influence on your mood? The simple answer is yes, they can have a massive impact on your mental health.

Recent evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health and that several mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors. The role of nutrition tends to be the most obvious, yet under-recognised factor in the development of major trends in mental health. However, the body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at rapid pace. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, much of the research indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Along with exercise, quality sleep and stress management, getting the right balance of nutrients in the diet can go a long way towards balancing your mood and anxiety levels. Your brain is always “on”- even when you are asleep. Though the brain accounts for only 2 percent of the weight of the body, it uses up 20 percent of the energy that is derived from the food we eat- far more than any other organ. This means that your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That fuel comes from the foods you eat and what is in that fuel makes all the difference.


How to balance your diet

An overall balanced diet is key. This starts with eating nutritionally balanced meals. In every meal, it is important that you include a portion of protein along with complex carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables.

  • Protein– Including protein-rich foods at meal times is very important because protein contains the amino acid tryptophan which is the building block for serotonin production, a brain chemical that promotes a feeling of well-being.
  • Complex Carbs– Including complex carbohydrates is equally important. Complex carbs give us a slow steady release of energy and encourage a slow steady release of serotonin. So, they have a long-lasting positive effect on our energy and mood.
  • Vitamin D– Getting enough vitamin D can be a challenge in Ireland because we don’t get enough sunlight, and if your Vitamin D levels are low, you’re more likely to experience low mood.
  • Vitamins B6, B12 & Omega 3 Fatty Acids- These nutrients influence serotonin which as previously mentioned is instrumental in mood regulation.


Written by Rebekka Johnston