Kysha Rooks column: Nutrition affects mental health

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2022

By Kysha Rooks
N.C. Cooperative Extension

When most people hear about mental health, they think about complex aspects touching on physical abuse, traumatizing encounters or even complicated genetic issues. However, nutrition also significantly influences mental health as the brain, which controls all body functions, requires a consistent supply of energy drawn from food that one consumes daily. A quality balanced diet positively affects one’s mental health, while poor diet has negative effects.

Consuming a healthy diet positively affects how one feels. Precisely, nutritious food influences the functionality of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Simply put, neurotransmitters are chemicals that facilitate the transfer of an impulse between nerves and they regulate body functions such as appetite, moods, sleep and pain. Nutritious meals rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water and essential fats facilitate effective neurotransmitter activity. For instance, micronutrients, mainly minerals and vitamins act as a catalyst for converting amino acids into neurotransmitters. It means that people with a good intake of macronutrients will experience good sleep, better moods and limited cases of memory loss. Therefore, a balanced diet will translate into good mental health.

Contrary, a poor-quality diet negatively affects one’s mental health. Foods that contain saturated fats and processed carbohydrates inhibit proper neurotransmitters activity. Case in point, butter and palm oil consumption prevents the conversion of consumed foods into nutrients required to supply the brain with energy.

As we transition into a new year, we should focus on consuming a healthy balanced diet as it directly affects our mental health.

Kysha Rooks is an Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) educator with the Rowan County Extension.

About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post