Health Team

Nutrition for Mental Health

Posted August 5, 2013

Nutrition and mental health are two closely intertwined fields of study. Kivette Parkes, ND at the Wellness Center knows this better than anyone. Medication and counseling are what most people think of when they hear the term mental health, and unfortunately, the role of sound nutrition in mental health is often overlooked.

Mental health is strongly related to overall physical wellness. When the body has all the proper nutrients it needs, it will function properly. An improper diet leads to deficiency in important vitamins and minerals that can lead to numerous physical and psychological problems. While not all mental health problems are so strongly related to diet, everyone can benefit from a nutrient-rich diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and good fats. In many cases, a vitamin deficiency can lead to increased levels of depression, anxiety, memory problems, and other negative changes in mental health.

Kivette Parkes, ND specializes in the application of proper nutrition for mental wellness. When an individual is eating properly, it is much easier to address any other mental health problems that might exist. It is also easier to cope with a variety of stressful mental health issues when the body is healthy and well nourished. One of the most important connections between mental health and nutrition is the mind-body connection. It is much easier to have a positive outlook on life and reduce stress when you have a wholesome and balanced diet.

Mental health and nutrition often converge in a variety of eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and other food-related disorders all mark the intersection between the mind and body when it comes to food. An obsessive or controlling relationship with food can easily lead to an eating disorder. In extreme cases of body dysmorphic disorder, the individual sees themselves as disfigured, often in terms of weight, and adjusts their consumption of food according to the perceived image rather than their physical reality. While additional mental health services are necessary in these extreme cases, all can benefit from a balanced nutrition plan that is carefully designed to rework the way that the affected person perceives food psychologically.

In many ways, nutrition for mental health is largely the same as nutrition for general health and well-being. However, there are a few key differences. A regular nutrition plan deals with the physical effects of food on the body. A nutrition plan with mental health in mind must also take into account the psychological relationship that the patient has with food. In addition to following established nutritional guidelines to optimize physical health, the nutritionist must also optimize mental health through the use of nutrition. This process naturally involves education about food and its relationship to the body. Without understanding how food impacts everything from physical strength to mood and stress levels, and how each of those factors interacts, it is impossible to truly understand the relationship between nutrition and mental health. The Wellness Center is full of resources that can begin the educational process and help anyone better understand this complex dynamic.

Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare is an advertising partner of, but each article is intended to be educational and informative in nature.


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