Skip to content

Understanding the Connection Between Diet and Mental Health

July marks Mental Illness Awareness Month in South Africa, a crucial time to focus on the importance of mental health. As a dietician, I want to emphasize the connection between nutrition and mental well-being.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut, often called the “second brain,” significantly impacts our mental health. A healthy gut microbiome can influence mood positively. Probiotics and fibrerich foods like yogurt, kefir, and vegetables support gut health.

Nutrient-Rich Foods for Mental Health

Certain nutrients are essential for brain health and can improve mood:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

B Vitamins: Found in leafy greens, eggs, lean meats, and legumes.

Antioxidants: Found in fruit and vegetables. Berries, dark chocolate, and green tea are particularly rich in antioxidants.

Blood Sugar Stability

Stable blood sugar levels help maintain energy and mood. Eat a balanced meal or snack 3-5 times per day.  Your plate should be balanced and contain whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Hydration and Mental Health

Staying hydrated is crucial for brain function. Drink 250ml for every 10kg of your body weight daily.  A person weighing 65kg should, therefore, drink 1.5L daily.

Stress Management and Mindful Eating

Mindful eating and relaxation techniques like meditation can help manage stress and improve mental health.


This Mental Illness Awareness Month, prioritise mental health by making mindful food choices. If you want to learn more about how your diet impacts your mental health, book a consultation today.