Plant-based diets: A Feast for your Mental Health!
Nowadays, there are more and more campaigns and movements concerned about the awareness, normalization and dignified treatment of mental health. Access to specialized medical therapies and treatments is not within everyone's reach and it is still taboo for many to be able to talk about mental health without prejudice. But in fact, we are all exposed to develop a mental health problem at some point, and this is precisely what these movements are trying to highlight.
WHO statistics estimate that one in four people in the world will have a mental disorder in their lifetime. Statistics also indicate that at least 264 million adults worldwide suffer from anxiety and that more than 300 million people could be diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
Plant-based diets, however, are some of the accessible alternatives available to protect and improve mental health, having a conscious food consumption during the day to potentially reduce the development of anxiety or depression.
One of the most popular arguments against plant-based diets is that they do not provide sufficient levels of vitamin B-12 and iron, nevertheless, you can look for supplements or eat more legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, peas or peanuts in order to easily solve the deficiency.
On the other hand, it should be noted that almost 50% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and magnesium. A figure that is exponentially lower in consumers of plant-based diets, which are rich in these nutrients. A 2019 study showed that Vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium decrease anxiety symptoms. And even several of the participants, declared to have noticed a decrease in these symptoms since they switched to a plant-based diet.
Plant-based consumers tend to eat more leafy green vegetables, fermented foods (such as miso or kimchi), and dark chocolate, which lowers the levels of cortisol in the blood, also known as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol not only affects our mood, it can also affect our physical well-being. Stress is a silent disorder that affects the majority of the population and can lead to other afflictions such as gastrointestinal problems or recurring headaches.
Plant-based diets are also rich in carbohydrates that increase serotonin, known as the hormone of happiness. Many antidepressants work as serotonin disinhibitors, and plant-based diets are a natural, non-invasive source for increasing serotonin production. On the contrary, meats and animal origin products contain fatty acids that promote symptoms of depression.
Incorporating more plant-based foods, and eventually transitioning fully balanced, will provide the nutrients needed for an optimal physical and mental health, at a time when it's vital to take care of both. Generating awareness about mental health implies generating prevention and taking the necessary care measures in our hands. We must take care of our mental health as we usually do with taking care of our body and physical health. Currently products, such as ASANTÉ, evolve traditions by adapting the favorite dishes of Mexico and promoting the ideology of integrative health by offering balanced products that also help prevent deficiencies that people in the process of transition usually present.
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