Are there links between your diet and your state of mind?

Can nutrition really affect your mental health? The answer, in short, is yes.


Mental health awareness has grown tremendously in recent years, with multiple positive campaigns enabling more and more people to speak up and receive the support they need. However, one of the most obvious, yet under-recognised issues associated with mental health is poor diet or lack of nutrition.


Recent studies have shown that almost two thirds of people who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or drink fruit juice every day. In contrast those suffering with mental health problems have reported poor appetite, a habit to skip meals, and a dominant desire for sweet tasting foods.


What to avoid

We don’t need to tell you that sugary foods are one of the worst things for a balanced diet. Not only are they bad for possible weight gain and health problems, but they can also play a huge part in affecting your mental state.

Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which can cause an initial ‘high’ or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving you feeling tired, low and with potential anxiety. Not only that, sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty thinking and fatigue, increasing worry and fear.


So, what should I eat?

The old saying that ‘breakfast is the most important meals of the day’ rings true. Having a good, solid breakfast sets you up for the day and can make you feel more awake and ready to take on the day! Plus, it will keep you full for longer and you won’t be as tempted to snack in between meals.

Omega-3 One of the most important foods to incorporate into your diet is omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in several oily fish. According to research, these fatty acids contribute to our brain tissue and can help lower your risk of depression and low mood. Eating salmon, mackerel and sardines regularly will keep your brain healthy and will improve your mood by keeping your brain cells ‘flexible’.


Fruit and Veg

It may be obvious, but it’s true – high quantities of fruit and veg are a must for mental health. In particular, Lentils and Bananas are a good source of amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate. All of these can help with boosting your mood and can also aid sleep! You can read about the affects of sleep deprivation on your mental health here.


So, where do we go from here?

As research has shown, we cannot ignore the massive links between our nutritional and mental health. Eating good food promotes overall health and well-being, but what you eat can hugely impact how you feel. Why not try it yourself for one week and let us know if you felt a difference by getting in touch with us here at The Healthy Worker? We’d love to hear from you.


If you would like to know more about the services we provide here at The Healthy Worker, please feel free to get in touch on 01684 231461 or email

Could sleep deprivation be affecting your mental health?

You may have heard that a lack of sleep can affect you physically, having an impact on your weight, your immune system and even aches and pains, but did you know that sleep deprivation can have an even bigger effect on your mental well-being?


Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between sleep and your mood – but it’s more than waking up feeling grumpy after tossing and turning all night. A lack of sleep, such as prolonged periods of insomnia, can lead to a lack of concentration and impair our ability to think clearly, as well as influence our outlook on life, energy levels, motivation and emotions.


Despite these warnings however, it is clear that people across the UK are not getting a good night’s rest. In 2016, research by the Royal Society for Public Health found that the average Briton is losing almost an hour of sleep per night – that’s a whole night’s sleep over the course of one week!


The report, titled ‘Waking up to the health benefits of sleep’, highlights the need for individuals to get more good quality sleep to protect our health and well-being, and calls on schools, employers and GPs to discuss sleep as part of complex health issues.


The most common mental health issues linked to sleep deprivation are depression and anxiety disorders. It therefore may not surprise you to hear that people with insomnia are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety than those who get an average of 7-9 hours per night.

So, why does this happen? What is the impact of sleep deprivation on our brains?


First of all, a lack of sleep will effectively cause the memory inbox of the brain to shut down. Sleep affects the formation of myelin, which is vital to allowing the brain’s cells to grow and repair ready to operate the next day. So, when the brain is deprived, we are unable to properly commit new experiences to memory.


Studies have shown that sleep is also important to maintaining the health of our brain’s neurons. A good night’s sleep allows our neurons to independently rest and repair themselves, but if this happens while we’re awake, it is much less efficient and affects our cognitive performance such as our ability to reason, make decisions and react quickly. Moderate sleep deprivation has even been compared to the impairments of alcohol intoxication.


Sleep deprivation also leads to an increased development of beta-amyloid, a damaging protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.


There are numerous ways to avoid or combat sleep deprivation, such as establishing your natural wake-sleep cycle (or circadian rhythm), exercising regularly, limiting caffeine and nicotine and taking time out to wind down at the end of the day. However, for some, sleep deprivation can be a more serious issue that requires medical intervention. Booking an appointment with your GP is the first step to diagnosing a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnoea.


Whatever your course of action, it’s time to take sleep seriously, particularly when it comes to your mental health.