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Changes you can make to your diet to improve your mental heath

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Ever wondered how your diet affects your mental health? Now you can find out!

Being overloaded at work, struggling with a personal crisis, or simply feeling like everything is just too much – it's no secret that stress and anxiety can take a huge toll on our health.

And, as the new Food for Thought study reveals, these emotions can directly impact our diet – 52% said stress impacts their eating habits, and 49% said anxiety does too.

Working with Dr Prudence Knight, the study from Wren Kitchens discovers that although it's important to remember that anxiety cannot be caused or cured by food, there are food choices that can positively impact an existing problem – or make it worse.

Dr Knight provides her expert insight on maintaining a well-balanced diet of sustained energy to keep blood sugar levels stable – including tips on why fruit and vegetables, protein and fat are vital in supporting mental wellbeing.

Getting to know your fats 

Fat is particularly vital for optimal brain function - but it’s important to understand which type of fats you should consume to aid good mental wellbeing. Wren Kitchens compared examples of commons snacks with an overall fat content that might surprise you…but it’s the TYPE of fat that’s important.

As you can see, an average snack size serving of nuts appear to have a considerably high amount of fat when compared to a Mars Bar (in fact, over double the fat content). However, nuts have a large amount of ‘good’ monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in them, which have a positive effect on brain function.

The saturated fats are usually lower in these products too, whereas chocolate confectionary snacks tend to be higher in saturated fats – for example, the fat content of a Mars Bar is made up of nearly half saturated fats. It is also worth noting that products high in sugar won’t help when trying to keep those all-important blood sugar levels balanced.

  

Product

Total amount of fat (per serving)

Total amount of saturated fat

Total amount of sugar

Source

Mars Bar (51g)

8.5g

4.1g

30.5g

Source

Graze punchy protein nuts (41g)

19g

2.8g

2g

Source

Limiting alcohol and caffeine in-take

No one food type should be avoided entirely, and none can cause or cure anxiety. However, it is recommended to consider limiting alcohol and caffeine in-take as they can worsen existing anxiety symptoms.

Drinking under or up to the recommended allowance of 300mg per day should not impact anxious feelings for most people. However, higher levels of caffeine – especially when mixed with sweeteners – can negatively impact your digestive system and heart rate, which can mean those with anxiety and panic disorders become more anxious.

It's useful to know the types of products that have caffeine in…and how much they contain, just so you can judge how close you are to your recommended daily intake. Therefore, Wren Kitchens have picked out a variety of caffeinated items and revealed the amount of caffeine in each (in mg’s), and some of them are quite surprising!

Product

Total amount of caffeine

Source

Starbucks Nitro cold brew (Venti)

469mg

Source

Starbucks fresh filter coffee (Grande)

308mg

Source

Red Bull (250ml can)

80mg

Source

Dark Chocolate

80mg

Source

Coffee flavoured ice-cream (Variety)

52mg (up to)

Source

Anadin Extra (1x tablet)

45mg

Source

Diet Coke (330m can)

42mg

Source

Black tea (5 min brew)

32mg

Source

Green tea (5 min brew)

21mg

Source

 

This research was conducted as part of the Wren Kitchens Food for Thought study which you can check out here.

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