An extensive part of the population is affected by the lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has taken a toll on the psychologic health of many, leading to clinical anxiety or depression.
The sudden consequences of the coronavirus pervading all nooks of society—be it the economy, education, health—and impacts such as unemployment and social distancing have spurred suicidal tendencies that lead to incidents of self-harm which were widely reported in the media during the past month. The coronavirus has impacted the mental health of tens of millions of people globally. For those living with a mental health condition which is debilitating to any degree, the virus acts as an additional trigger of anxiety to the people.
The brain never sleeps. It supervises our thoughts, movements, breathing and heartbeat—it works hard 24/7, even while you’re asleep. This means that your brain requires a constant supply of nutrients. These nutrients come from the foods you eat the components make all the difference to your mental health. Basically, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood. Robust eating helps children and young people cope more effectively with stress, better manage their emotions and get a good sleep–all of which assist learning.
Now the question arises: how does food and the psyche have an interconnected role? Poor nutrition has been associated with:
- externalizing behavior (such as hyperactivity, aggression, disobedience)
- symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- poor concentration and tiredness, which interfere with learning
- immune system function, which is also linked to mental health
- delayed brain development–high-fat, high-sugar diets can affect proteins within the body that are important for brain development
- iron deficiency which has been linked to cognitive function impairments associated with learning and memory
- nutrient deficiencies which are related to psychological state conditions including depression and anxiety. Fruits and vegetables, grains, fish, lean red meats and olive oils are rich in important nutrients like folate, magnesium, vitamins and zinc which all impact on body and brain functions, including mood regulation).
- Food insecurity—when people don’t have enough food due to due to conditions such as unemployment and poverty—is also a problem for many families in Australia. Food insecurity may result in poorer academic performance, absenteeism, stress, depression, anxiety, aggression, and difficulty with getting alongside others. Food insecurity can result in:
- Psychological stress—high levels of ongoing stress are associated with depression and delayed brain development
- Poorer academic performance
- School absenteeism
- Difficulty getting along with others
When you wear your best outfit, your confidence is evident in your face and the way you walk. Similarly, your physical wellbeing is seen in your face when your brain is well-nourished.
Observing one’s consumption pattern of nutrition habits is the requisite factor in improving mental health through food. The repetition of just one kind of diet supplied to the body needs to be rectified. Inculcation of a variety of foods, both qualitatively and quantitatively, need to be monitored.
It is important to cut off junk, fat diets, diets high in saturated fats and sugars from the plate. Checking of age-old practices of overcooking procedures is essential. Introduction of food for body nourishment and not only for taste needs to be checked.
The silver lining is that you can still improve your mental health. Better late than never.
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