Alimentation et santé mentale : quels sont les liens? Faites le point dans cet article d'Isabelle Huot Docteure en nutrition pour la Boulangerie St-Méthode.

In January 2022, according to the Institut national de santé publique (National Institute of Public Health), 17% of Quebecers described their mental health as passable or bad. Anxiety, stress, and depression are having an increasing effect on more and more people, especially since the start of the pandemic. While several factors can affect mental health, few people know that diet can play a role in changing your mood. Here are my winning tips to help perk up your day!

  1. Feed your microbiota

An unfavourable microbiota (one that is less diverse and with fewer good microorganisms) can affect mental health. In fact, more anxiety and stress can be observed in people whose microbiota is non-optimal. How can you improve things? By eating essential fibres that will fuel the proliferation of good microorganisms. Since you should be eating at least 25 g of fibre per day, start the morning with some bread that provides 6 or more grams of fibre per 2-slice serving (giving you a quarter of your daily needs). Personally, I often start my day with Les Grains St-Méthode’s 9 Whole Grains Bread. I top it with some natural peanut butter and my chia fruit spread (which adds 2 more grams of fibre!).

  1. Eat fatty fish

Yes, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can change your mood. To make sure you’re getting enough, eat at least two fatty fish meals per week (tuna, trout, salmon, mackerel, sardines).

  1. Don’t ignore carbs

Grain products and legumes, sources of complex carbohydrates, help get tryptophan—a precursor of serotonin (the well-being neurotransmitter)—into the brain. Eat a few portions of whole grains every day, both for your physical health and mental health.

  1. Consume sources of magnesium

A lack of magnesium is associated with depressive behaviour and anxiety. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of magnesium.

  1. Get enough sleep

People who sleep less have more cortisol (stress hormone) running through them. You should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid sources of caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate, energy drinks) starting in mid-afternoon, eat a light supper, avoid blue light from screens, and do a relaxation activity before going to bed.

Summing up:

  • Many Quebecers consider their mental health to be passable or bad.

  • Diet plays a role in mood modulation.

  • Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and in fibre—including grain products, legumes, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds—are good allies for both physical and mental health.

  • Sleeping well is an anti-stress habit you should adopt.

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