In light of Mental Health week, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about mental health with World Mental Health Day happening over the weekend. Not to mention the current circumstances taking place in the world right now with COVID-19. So, let's dive into a quick run down of why mental health is so important and some easy nutrition and lifestyle tips that can help to support your mental health and well-being!
The reason our mental health is so important.
Here are some quick statistics demonstrating how prevalent mental health conditions are in Australia provided by Beyond Blue. This may shock you!
- One in seven Australians will experience depression in their lifetime.
- One quarter of Australians will experience an anxiety condition in their lifetime.
- One in six Australians is currently experiencing depression or anxiety or both.
- Females are more likely than males to experience depression and anxiety.
The common factors that influence mental health disorders.
It’s important to realise that mental health disorders are generally not caused by a single factor, but can be a combination of many factors that includes
- Life events: unemployment, unhealthy relationships, trauma, isolation, loneliness, stress.
- Personal factors: genetic risk, low self-esteem, self-critical and negative emotions, medical illness, drug and alcohol abuse.
- Dietary factors: poor diet, high sugar, processed foods, nutritional deficiencies .
- Environmental factors: mould, heavy metal toxins (lead and mercury exposure), air pollution, and organic compounds.
The relationship that your diet has to your mental health.
The diet plays a huge role in mental health conditions. The western diet that is typically deficient in many nutrients in particular vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids has been identified as a risk factor for mental health conditions. So, let’s discuss these in more detail and why hemp seeds can help to improve nutritional deficiencies.
Amino acids and neurotransmitters
What’s a neurotransmitter? Neurotransmitters (Eg. serotonin and dopamine) are chemical messengers in the brain that play important roles in regulating our mood and are known to be unbalanced in people suffering from mental health disorders. What you probably didn’t know is that we need amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from foods to produce these neurotransmitters sufficiently. What’s cool about hemp seeds is that they contain all 9 essential amino acids that can help to increase your intake of amino acids. Our hemp protein powder contains the highest amount of protein in our range of products that could help to support your neurotransmitter balance.
Essential Fatty acids
Studies indicate that both anxiety and depression are conditions characterised by inflammation.2 One of the unique benefits of Hemp Seed Oil is its impressive amount of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that regulate inflammation. These are both essential fatty acids and can’t be made by the body, therefore are required from the diet. Furthermore, Studies support the intake in omega 3 fatty acids in improving major depression3.This is due to omega 3 fatty acids producing a group of chemicals called eicosanoids that are anti-inflammatory for the brain and may promote healthy neurotransmitter production.
B vitamins and magnesium
Both B vitamins and magnesium act as cofactors (helpers) for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, that we know help to regulate our mood. B vitamin and magnesium deficiencies have both been associated with depression. Some studies that have used B vitamins (in particular B6, folate and B12) supplements and magnesium supplements have demonstrated to improve depression (how cool is that!)4. You can also get B vitamins and magnesium in the diet by consuming green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Our hemp hearts also contain an impressive amount of B vitamins and magnesium, as well as many other beneficial nutrients.
Refined sugars and carbohydrates
Refined sugars and carbohydrates can also affect our mood. Higher sugar consumption has been linked to depression in multiple studies. Consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates can affect our mood by increasing inflammation in the body, increasing insulin that can cause hormonal problems, less production of brain growing chemicals (BDNF). Not only that, the addictive effects of sugar can deregulate the production of our neurotransmitter dopamine that is known as our reward chemical in the brain5. What's awesome about 13 Seeds hemp seeds is that they are low in carbohydrates and are high in healthy fats and protein!
Exercise and mental health
Physical exercise has been established to improve mood and self-esteem, while also improving symptoms of anxiety and depression. Still not convinced? Exercise can also improve sleep, increase your interest in sex, better endurance, stress relief, increased energy and stamina, reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness, and weight reduction6! You’re probably wondering how much exercise is required to gain these results? Research suggests that just 20 to 40 minutes exercise a day resulted in reduced anxiety and mood - it’s that easy7!
7-9 hours of good quality sleep for mood
Sleep is often overlooked as a crucial aspect of our health. Studies have demonstrated that sleep is not only essential for our health, but also can be linked to mental health conditions like depression with about three quarters of depressed patients reporting insomnia8. Sleep disturbances are also extremely common in anxiety disorders. This may be due to increased stress causing arousal and difficulty falling asleep at night9. This once again demonstrates the importance of sleep and other aspects of your life such as stress management and proper nutrition.
How do I manage stress?
One of the most effective ways to manage stress is to practice mindfulness daily. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. When we practice mindfulness our thoughts tune into the present moment, rather than the past or the future that can sometimes be associated with negative thoughts or feelings. Popular types of mindfulness include meditation, yoga and breath-work. Even science supports the practice of mindfulness, with a 2010 study stating that ‘These results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations.’ - how cool is that!10
- Family history – Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, having a parent or close relative with depression doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have the same experience. Life circumstances and other personal factors are still likely to have an important influence.
- Personality – Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative.
- Serious medical illness – The stress and worry of coping with a serious illness can lead to depression, especially if you’re dealing with long-term management and/or chronic pain.
- Drug and alcohol use – Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time, at some point in their lives11.
These are just a few personal factors, however there can be a combination of other factors that includes lifestyle factors, environmental factors, family history of mental health, psychosocial factors, nutritional deficiencies, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and medications12.
Anxiety and depression are both considered to be inflammatory conditions and that hemp seed oil may provide some benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties
It’s also important to look at the big picture, and consider all aspects of your life to understand why you might be experiencing anxiety and depression and to speak to your health professional if you require further support13.
Refined sugars and carbohydrates can also affect our mood. Higher sugar consumption has been linked to depression in multiple studies. Consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates can affect our mood by increasing inflammation in the body, increasing insulin that can cause hormonal problems, less production of brain growing chemicals (BDNF). Not only that, the addictive effects of sugar can deregulate the production of our neurotransmitter dopamine that is known as our reward chemical in the brain14. What's awesome about 13 Seeds hemp seeds is that they are low in carbohydrates, and are high in healthy fats and protein!